Hacktivism is not new, but when the data stolen and released targets a group already beseiged by violent acts of “protest”, have the hackers stepped over the line into actual terrorism? What if the data stolen contains sensitive data aside from financial information, such as medical records, or proof of infidelity? What if the security hole could be used to crash a moving vehicle? Following the scandalous breach at Ashley Madison comes three more hacks that will add to your gray hairs. First up is the “doxing” of Planned Parenthood employees after a hacking group penetrated their network and gained access to employee information, which they promptly released online. It’s not a far stretch to imagine those 300 people being targeted for harassment and violence by more “hands-on” anti-abortion groups now that their information has been made public. Regardless of your feelings about a group’s politics, lining up people in the cross-hairs on an issue known to incite extreme acts of violence is never the right way to protest.
That’s not the worst of it. Keep reading.
UCLA Health – one of the largest hospital systems in the country – revealed that it too had been hacked, and sensitive data on 4.5 million patients and employees has been compromised. While admitting that the usual sensitive information was likely exposed, UCLA officials could not confirm whether the data had actually been stolen, and to add insult to injury, they are only now admitting to the hack, months after the actual breach was detected. No mention was made whether medical records were exposed, though one imagines if such a thing had happened, the enormous liability exposure would lead to full disclosure. One would hope.
If you happened to be a UCLA patient and the owner of a new Jeep Cherokee, you are probably having a really bad week. Fiat Chrysler is recalling over one million new SUV’s after details were released by two hackers who were able to physically disable a moving Jeep Cherokee and send it into a ditch, while the driver was helpless to do anything about it. With our cars becoming increasingly automated and connected (and at some point, self-driving), you can bet this type of event will become more commonplace. It’s good that Fiat Chrysler decided to recall the potentially dangerous vehicles, but indicative of a wider blind spot in all industries of the mounting threat of cyberattacks. Hackers have supposedly been trying for years to call attention to security problems like ones exploited in the Jeep, as others have in industries like airplane manufacturing. Let’s hope no one has to crash a plane to get their attention.
Among the many things that complicate technology, batteries have historically been a big, heavy, environmentally disasterous anchor around everyone’s necks. Researchers at UCLA have recently announced a breakthrough in producing graphene-based “supercapacitors” that essentially takes the best parts of a capictor and a traditional battery to form what may be as transformative as the discovery of electricity. Graphene-based batteries are envisioned to be able to charge in minutes. On top of this, graphene itself is very eco-friendly (compostable, in fact), durable and flexible, almost the exact opposite of current battery technology.
What this means for you:
I don’t know about you, but my mobile devices always seem to be on low battery at the most inconvenient moments. Even if there is a power plug nearby and you happen to have your charging cable, putting your phone/laptop/camera/tablet down in the middle of a busy day (not to mention a public place like an airport) for an hour or more is just not practical. What may be really eye-opening is if graphene battery technology could be used for electric vehicles, specifically electric cars which have been struggling against “range anxiety” in their adoption and spread. Charging stations, once envisioned as impractical (mostly because of the slow charge times) could literally operate with the same speed and convenience as a traditional gas station, paving the way for a fossil-fuel free future. Say that four times fast!
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