The 10 Scariest Technology Ideas

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The 10 Scariest Technology Ideas

by Jim Rapoza

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Where Am I Now?

Twitter, Facebook and the like are great for telling friends and colleagues what you're doing right now. "Hey, everybody! We're all in Europe for the next two weeks!" The problem is, potential criminals also now know that your home is empty and free for the plundering.

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Your Master Key

Hey, you're in no hurry to migrate to Windows 7 or even Vista—never mind use a Mac or another OS. Your old Windows system is just fine. You especially like the way Microsoft decided to let everyone and everything run as Administrator on the system. That means that you can do anything with a minimum of hassle—but so can that rogue piece of malware that slipped in on your system. Making everything Admin by default on an OS is kind of like giving everyone in the world a key to your house and then trying to figure out how to keep those people from coming in.

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Just Wave to Steal from Me

Cool, your credit card and passport have RFID chips in them! Now you can cross borders or pay for things without having to slide a card through a reader. Wow, that must save you seconds a day! And all you had to do in return was make it easy for thieves with cheap and easy-to-make RFID reading devices to steal your personal information and credit card numbers without even having to get close to you.

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Dial M for Money

Forget carrying all those silly credit cards. Just use your smartphone to pay for things. Isn't that great? Just point your phone at a vending machine, kiosk or payment console, and the transaction gets carried out. And don't worry that you are using a device whose lack of security capabilities makes Windows 95 look like Fort Knox—I'm sure no one will bother to steal directly from people's payment-enabled phones.

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A Script for Disaster

Ah, scripting. We developers and software product managers love you. Since the early days of Office to ActiveX in IE to Flash to new Web 2.0 systems, scripting has made it simple to extend applications with lots of cool, new capabilities. It's also been one of the prime ways that viruses, Trojans and malware have spread since the early days of the Internet. If you think we've learned our lesson, just wait until the next time you need to turn off scripting in yet another application because a fix is needed to provide protection from the bad guys. And there will be a next time.

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Now Serving Anyone

Being the administrator of a Web server can be a tough job. Since Web servers are one of the main conduits for evildoers to get to your systems, you spend lots of time (and many sleepless nights) keeping these servers locked down and secure. It's a tough job, and it's one that requires lots of expertise. So here's a great idea. Let's put Web servers on everyone's systems! In browsers, in plug-ins, in file-sharing applications—heck, let's put them in any application that might want to connect to the Internet. Don't worry—the vendors say they're secure.

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Phishing for Trouble

Darn phishers—they make it tough on people by disguising fraudulent sites as legitimate sites, complete with URLs that are very similar to the originals. For example, the phishers might try to divert you from your destination with the URL Luckily, users can easily identify legitimate Website names and avoid trouble. Or can they? It's definitely a tougher task now that ICANN is allowing people to create any address suffix they want (for example, mybank.crooks). So, get ready for lots of people to be even more confused about Internet addresses—and for more crooks to take advantage of that.

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Every Step You Take

Your cool new smartphone, your car and your entertainment devices have neat GPS features. Indeed, almost everything has GPS functionality, making it easy for you to find your way around. This also makes it really easy for anyone else to find you—anytime, anywhere. But hey—at least you don't have to look at maps anymore.

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The Winner Is: No One!

Everyone loves voting on the Web! Who was the best Star Trek captain? What's the best Scorsese movie? So why not just use the Web for national elections? Sure, the chances of fraud and corruption are high, and the ability to secure the process is limited. But regular elections can be corrupt, too. And with e-voting you wouldn't need to travel to that lousy polling place. Hmm. Evil Dictator wins by a landslide, despite a 5 percent approval rating. Elections sure are quirky.

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All Your Stuff Belongs to Us

The Internet sure makes life a lot better. Wouldn't it be great if everything was connected to the Internet—your car, your environmental systems, your refrigerator? Sure, the benefits seem kind of limited, especially when balanced against the risk. But it sure would be neat to be uber-connected. Neat, that is, until hackers crash your car, mess with your heating systems and know just how much Chunky Monkey ice cream you eat daily.

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