When Gadgets Betray Us looks at the dark side of technology: how it lulls consumers into a false sense of security as they purchase and use their gadgets with little concern or knowledge of all the trails of personal information that they leave behind—information that lowers our threshold for privacy, leaving us vulnerable to a variety of culprits from mischief-makers to thieves who can steal anything from our cars to our identities.
Author Robert Vamosi describes a world where consumers are so fascinated and dependent on technology and convenience that they have given up commonsense judgment and their own sense of survival instincts for a misplaced sense of trust in the technology. Vamosi makes a clear and persuasive argument for staying ahead of the technology by creating multi-layered identification and security systems that will better protect our property and identities; but more importantly he presents a convincing argument about why it is necessary for companies and consumers that create and use these gadgets to rethink how to keep their data secure.
When Gadgets Betray Us offers in-depth and extensive information on seemingly innocuous tools of convenience that are responsible for the insidious dissemination of our personal information to individuals, companies, government agencies or criminals—from the more commonly known devices and cell phones and laptops to hotel televisions and remotes that bring up the customer’s information from mini-bar and in-room movie purchases to credit card information, to the smart cards that are used as payment on public transportation and convenience store purchases, to the electronic data on your driver’s license. Among numerous cases, Vamosi shows how several tech experts were able to easily tap into the codes used to unlock cars or customers’ hotel room information and parking meters to either steal the car or personal information, or to create a copy of a smart card that would have allowed the tech expert to place whatever value he wanted on the card.
As our world relies more and more on technology to make life simpler for us, we are leaving behind what Vamosi calls “electronic breadcrumbs” that can be, in essence, used to track our move and the details of our life – where we go, what we buy. The information acquired can be easily replicated and used to access any system that we think is secure. Vamosi points out that even fingerprint scanners can be fooled by creating dummy images or three-dimensional models made from gelatin such as is found in gummy bears or other candy. One example of getting around the fingerprint scanner involved a car thief cutting the tip of the left index finger from the owner of the car.
Some of the methods of eliminating or decreasing the corruption of personal security systems involve the use of retina scanning, vein pattern recognition or a three-factor authentication—which would require, for example, a retina scan, voice recognition and a password. Currently the FAA combines finger and iris scans in its security and identification system. Though the multi-level identification still doesn’t eliminate all corruption of security systems, it makes it harder for criminals to replicate our identities and gain access into private accounts and systems. However, Vamosi argues that the accountability for change must lie in the consumers to both be educated in the use of their gadgets and push for change with companies that collect data, so that the consumers can control of the trail of personal data that they leave as they use the technological gadgets.
Vamosi’s writing is extremely clear, detailed and chockfull of examples of our technical devices can so easily betray us. Though understandable by the layman, this book contains comprehensive technical information that would be better appreciated by those who are somewhat tech savvy. When Gadgets Betray Us is an illuminating and somewhat alarming look at how our trust in and dependency on everyday gadgets and technology could be detrimental to our personal security if we don’t mange them correctly. Five stars.