Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Stackify Blog, Automic Blog, Simon Hill, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: @ThingsExpo, @CloudExpo, Cloud Security

@ThingsExpo: Blog Feed Post

How to Turn Your Microwave into a Camera | @ThingsExpo #IoT #M2M #Security

All kidding aside, there is no way to take a microwave oven and use it 'as is' as a surveillance tool

You can turn a microwave into a camera and I’ll teach you how in a minute, but before I do, let me share this news item. In a recent interview with a reporter from the Bergen Record, Kellyanne Conway was asked about surveillance. She responded: “There are many ways to surveil each other now, unfortunately. There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways. And microwaves that turn into cameras, etc. So we know that that is just a fact of modern life.”

On its face, her statement about “microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera” is ridiculous. It reminds me of the late Sen. Ted Stevens’ famous “Tubes” speech. I went right after “Uncle Ted” for his techno–faux pas, but even then, there were bigger issues to consider. It would be exceptionally easy to jump all over Ms. Conway for her techno–faux pas. But doing so would be taking a cheap shot at an easy target while completely missing a very, very important teaching moment.

You Cannot Hide
First and foremost, if you are a normal person who does not have a professional security team ensuring your privacy, and you are targeted, you cannot hide. There are countless legal and illegal ways to watch you (assuming you’re interesting enough to be watched), and you will not know you are being watched until someone makes use of the surveilled material. Get over it. As Ms. Conway suggests, “that is just a fact of modern life.” If you’re wondering what these mysterious “countless ways” might be, type “surveillance” into Google and read through some of the 186 million results. This may have been her point. If it was, she was just fear-mongering. Very few people are interesting enough to be watched.

Professionals Have Countermeasures
If your personal or business dealings require enterprise-grade security and privacy, you can hide. Although, even professional surveillors have trouble keeping up with professional surveillees – and vice versa, because surveillors and surveillees are locked in an iterative, accelerating arms race that will never end. That said, if this is the “fact of modern life” Ms. Conway was referring to, she either misspoke or was just misinformed about microwave ovens.

A Massive Gap in Understanding
The bigger problem with Ms. Conway’s statement was that it clearly illustrated that she has no idea what is, or is not, technologically possible. A blanket statement about digital surveillance may fulfill her communications mandate, but it raises a serious question: Does she (or do the people who crafted her message) know enough about the technology she’s attempting to describe to hold informed, rational policy discussions about it? And without this understanding, is it possible to lead the world into the 21st century?

Lifelong Learning
Policy is already years behind technology, and it’s falling farther behind every day. Our elected officials need to have either a deep understanding of technological capabilities that are just over the horizon or the ability to enlist (and listen to) world-class tech advisors or, preferably, both. Sadly, this requirement for future-preparedness is not in evidence.

The Imminent Danger of IoT
Smart homes and connected devices are everywhere, and with the advent of natural language understanding (NLU) systems such as Alexa Voice Services, sales are becoming robust. Over the next few years, we will find sensors in every conceivable device, and all of these devices (an estimated 50 billion of them) will be connected to some kind of network.

Data security is already a formidable problem, and it will be an even bigger problem moving forward. But device security is also going to command our attention. There are almost no ubiquitously agreed-upon security standards for IoT devices. Just how many unregulated transceivers with central processing units do you want in your home? Is the hard-coded, unchangeable password to that network-connected, budget indoor/outdoor thermometer “1234?” If so, welcome to hacker heaven. Could an inexpensive device like this be used by hackers to commit a massive DDoS attack? In October 2016, that’s exactly what happened.

Will someone hack your devices to do something even worse? Time will tell, but Kellyanne Conway could have used her moment in the spotlight to ask real questions about IoT. BTW, earlier this week, Maureen Ohlhausen, acting head of the Federal Trade Commission, said the “Internet of Things should self-regulate.” ’Nuff said.

Turning Your Microwave into a Camera
As promised, here’s how to turn your microwave (oven), which is what I think Ms. Conway meant, into a camera.

Take a smartphone and connect it to your local area network (WiFi). Download any time-lapse photography app you like. Now, duct tape the smartphone to your microwave. Do your best to camouflage it and hide the charging cord. Walk away saying something like, “Nothing to see here, folks” to divert the attention of the curiosity seekers.

Your microwave has now been turned into a camera. Of course, it will still work as a microwave – that’s what’s so great about this! Who in their right mind would ever think a microwave could be turned into a camera?

Disclaimer
All kidding aside, there is no way to take a microwave oven and use it “as is” as a surveillance tool. Microwave ovens are shielded, not typically network-connected, and they do not possess the proper component parts for image-making. Even the transducer that makes the beep is not really suited for use as a microphone.

Importantly, this is not true of other devices Ms. Conway mentioned. A professional can easily install software in a smart television (which typically features a microphone for voice recognition and a camera for gesture control) for surveillance use. In practice, anything with a transducer (microphone or speaker) in your home that is network-connected is a relatively easy target for espionage. But – and this is a big but – in almost every case, someone would need to break into your home to do the required modifications. This is not true with respect to turning your smart phones or some other types of smart devices against you. That can be done remotely.

Lastly, none of these surveillance techniques are easy to accomplish, and all of them require a warrant from a court of competent jurisdiction. But the rules only apply to governments and law enforcement. Criminals (hackers and other bad guys) don’t tend to follow rules or regulations. That’s what makes them criminals. So, without promoting fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) and without espousing conspiracy theories, let me leave you with one thought. It’s the Wild West, it’s getting wilder by the day, and there ain’t no sheriff.

The post How to Turn Your Microwave into a Camera originally appeared here on Shelly Palmer

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the host of Fox Television’s "Shelly Palmer Digital Living" television show about living and working in a digital world. He is Fox 5′s (WNYW-TV New York) Tech Expert and the host of United Stations Radio Network’s, MediaBytes, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
DevOps teams have more on their plate than ever. As infrastructure needs grow, so does the time required to ensure that everything's running smoothly. This makes automation crucial - especially in the server and network monitoring world. Server monitoring tools can save teams time by automating server management and providing real-time performance updates. As budgets reset for the New Year, there is no better time to implement a new server monitoring tool (or re-evaluate your current solution)....
The benefits of automation are well documented; it increases productivity, cuts cost and minimizes errors. It eliminates repetitive manual tasks, freeing us up to be more innovative. By that logic, surely, we should automate everything possible, right? So, is attempting to automate everything a sensible - even feasible - goal? In a word: no. Consider this your short guide as to what to automate and what not to automate.
Cavirin Systems has just announced C2, a SaaS offering designed to bring continuous security assessment and remediation to hybrid environments, containers, and data centers. Cavirin C2 is deployed within Amazon Web Services (AWS) and features a flexible licensing model for easy scalability and clear pay-as-you-go pricing. Although native to AWS, it also supports assessment and remediation of virtual or container instances within Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), or on-premise. By dr...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
The cloud revolution in enterprises has very clearly crossed the phase of proof-of-concepts into a truly mainstream adoption. One of most popular enterprise-wide initiatives currently going on are “cloud migration” programs of some kind or another. Finding business value for these programs is not hard to fathom – they include hyperelasticity in infrastructure consumption, subscription based models, and agility derived from rapid speed of deployment of applications. These factors will continue to...
While we understand Agile as a means to accelerate innovation, manage uncertainty and cope with ambiguity, many are inclined to think that it conflicts with the objectives of traditional engineering projects, such as building a highway, skyscraper or power plant. These are plan-driven and predictive projects that seek to avoid any uncertainty. This type of thinking, however, is short-sighted. Agile approaches are valuable in controlling uncertainty because they constrain the complexity that ste...
Digital transformation has changed the way users interact with the world, and the traditional healthcare experience no longer meets rising consumer expectations. Enterprise Health Clouds (EHCs) are designed to easily and securely deliver the smart and engaging digital health experience that patients expect today, while ensuring the compliance and data integration that care providers require. Jikku Venkat
identify the sources of event storms and performance anomalies will require automated, real-time root-cause analysis. I think Enterprise Management Associates said it well: “The data and metrics collected at instrumentation points across the application ecosystem are essential to performance monitoring and root cause analysis. However, analytics capable of transforming data and metrics into an application-focused report or dashboards are what separates actual application monitoring from relat...
"This all sounds great. But it's just not realistic." This is what a group of five senior IT executives told me during a workshop I held not long ago. We were working through an exercise on the organizational characteristics necessary to successfully execute a digital transformation, and the group was doing their ‘readout.' The executives loved everything we discussed and agreed that if such an environment existed, it would make transformation much easier. They just didn't believe it was reali...
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We're developing a software that is based on the cloud environment and we are providing those services to corporations and the general public," explained Seungmin Kim, CEO/CTO of SM Systems Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Many enterprise and government IT organizations are realizing the benefits of cloud computing by extending IT delivery and management processes across private and public cloud services. But they are often challenged with balancing the need for centralized cloud governance without stifling user-driven innovation. This strategy requires an approach that fundamentally reshapes how IT is delivered today, shifting the focus from infrastructure to services aggregation, and mixing and matching the bes...
DevOps promotes continuous improvement through a culture of collaboration. But in real terms, how do you: Integrate activities across diverse teams and services? Make objective decisions with system-wide visibility? Use feedback loops to enable learning and improvement? With technology insights and real-world examples, in his general session at @DevOpsSummit, at 21st Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, explored how leading organizations use data-driven DevOps to close th...
"CA has been doing a lot of things in the area of DevOps. Now we have a complete set of tool sets in order to enable customers to go all the way from planning to development to testing down to release into the operations," explained Aruna Ravichandran, Vice President of Global Marketing and Strategy at CA Technologies, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
We just came off of a review of a product that handles both containers and virtual machines in the same interface. Under the covers, implementation of containers defaults to LXC, though recently Docker support was added. When reading online, or searching for information, increasingly we see “Container Management” products listed as competitors to Docker, when in reality things like Rocket, LXC/LXD, and Virtualization are Dockers competitors. After doing some looking around, we have decided tha...
The nature of test environments is inherently temporary—you set up an environment, run through an automated test suite, and then tear down the environment. If you can reduce the cycle time for this process down to hours or minutes, then you may be able to cut your test environment budgets considerably. The impact of cloud adoption on test environments is a valuable advancement in both cost savings and agility. The on-demand model takes advantage of public cloud APIs requiring only payment for t...
"We are an integrator of carrier ethernet and bandwidth to get people to connect to the cloud, to the SaaS providers, and the IaaS providers all on ethernet," explained Paul Mako, CEO & CTO of Massive Networks, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
From our perspective as consumers, perhaps the best thing about digital transformation is how consumerization is making technology so much easier to use. Sure, our television remote controls still have too many buttons, and I have yet to figure out the digital display in my Honda, but all in all, tech is getting easier for everybody. Within companies – even very large ones – the consumerization of technology is gradually taking hold as well. There are now simple mobile apps for a wide range of ...