Technology is making it easier to trust strangers
Or, at least, they used to . As memes go, that image macro of a pup propped up with its paws on a keyboard, masquerading nominally as human, sits somewhere on the Venn diagram between twee , nostalgic and things from the internet your kids don t remember and will judge you for . The 1993 New Yorker cartoonist originally responsible for the gag, Peter Steiner, couldn t possibly have guessed more how hot-button an issue anonymity and trust online would become: as bored script-kiddies, organised crime gangs and multi-billion-dollar government agencies sprouted, flowered and burst like cyber-spores onto an unsuspecting internet targeting everyone and their nan (especially the nans) with schemes designed to exploit trust . The more we rely on devices for the day-to-day running of our lives, the lower we dangle like fruit for criminals. Folks who have been tasked with cybersecurity have been, for the past few decades, building defences using a model of isolation, says Allison Miller, product manager in security and privacy at Google . But what s happening with technology today particularly consumer technology is that we are becoming interconnected.. . People have become the new target . As opposed to, for example, all attackers focusing on getting into sensitive enterprises to get their corporate data, there s a lot of bad behaviour that ends up getting focused on users.
Miller and the Google security team are building the tools that gently (or in some cases, urgently) steer users safely away from sites that might have been designed or compromised to install malware or phish for personal data . Perhaps the most readily familiar example of the team s work is the joltingly all-red Chrome warning screen: the page a user is diverted to should they stray, unwittingly, into dangerous territory. It s an example of why internet users need unseen security teams working on their behalf: as online attack vectors become more and more numerous and sophisticated, the average user can t keep up.
And that s a problem that doesn t just apply to individuals: while the enormous, household-name internet companies can afford to throw diamond after gold brick at protecting their data (even then not always successfully), smaller companies rely just as heavily on consumer trust, and have to decide how much budget to allocate to it from comparatively thimble-sized pots.
“Institutional trust was not designed for the digital age”
That s the question of the ages: how do you determine how much to invest in security ? says Miller, of the line between protection and paranoia for smaller companies . And that is not something I can answer simply.. . It s worth it to sit down and figure out what is most valuable to you, what you have that might be most valuable to folks who would do ill or might potentially take advantage of you.
The complexity rises as you go from being an individual to being an organisation, but unfortunately.. . I think large enterprises are in the best position to find experts who will help them identify what s at risk and how to protect it. Whatever their size, companies that misjudge the allocation of resources for security (or are just unlucky) stand to lose more than just client information and money . Data dumps of user info as any former Ashley Madison3 member might tell you also cost companies a second digital currency: trust .
Human nature doesn t scale up well to the company that, through bad luck or negligence, is ultimately responsible for your credit card details ending up on a mile-long list of account numbers and sort codes swapping back and forth on the dark web . We trust companies like we trust friends: you get screwed over once, and it s an uphill battle to win you back. Institutional trust was not designed for the digital age, says Rachel Botsman, author of What s Mine is Yours and the upcoming Who Can You Trust?, on how trust translates into the digital world . If you think of risk mechanisms, whether that be the way we think about government, or regulation, or insurance contracts, they were all designed during the industrial revolution and haven t really evolved that much . So when we talk about institutions rebuilding trust, there is this belief that we can go back to this institutional era of trust that was very opaque, very top-down and very decentralised. The interim solution is already here, albeit in nascent form: trust scores . Ebay, Amazon, Airbnb and TripAdvisor already rely on them . In lieu of knowing a stranger in person, we trust a combination of star ratings, reviews and numbers . The mass decentralisation of the internet forces us not to trust a single stranger, but an aggregate of them: a web of dozens, hundreds or thousands of strangers .
As it is now with the auctioning of celebrity autographs or the buying of an impregnable sub- 20 pop-up tent, so it will be with banks, public institutions maybe even governments. I think these rate and review systems are inevitable, and I think these will be the tools that we use to assess trustworthiness, Botsman says . I m not saying that should be the goal . Trust is highly contextual.
If the goal is to increase trustworthiness, whether that s a corporation or an individual, you ve basically got two ways of doing that . The old way was through legislation and regulation, which led to more standards and more compliance . I m not saying that s going to go away . But the other option is: how do you provide information that empowers individuals to assess trustworthiness themselves ? And that s what I think we re in the very, very early stages of figuring out. All of which neatly covers two extremes on a spectrum .
If you re a one-person business a consultant or freelance-anything your trust score will be on your CV right below your name . At the other end: if you re a million-or-billion pound enterprise and slip up, there s no cushion like cash . The question is: what about the people in the middle ? Where is the room for experimentation, failure, progress, if the internet s web of strangers turns against your company in its first week? I think that small businesses are in an interesting spot, because they don t necessarily have the investment or the technical expertise of an enterprise, but they have to think like an organisation, says Miller . They have to think in a different way to individuals, and to me: that s where the biggest gap or question mark in cybersecurity is today.
Want to know more about the cyber threats of the future ? WIRED Security 2017 returns to London on September 28 to discuss the latest innovations, trends and threats in enterprise cyber defence, security intelligence and cybersecurity .
A former security guard stole from his old employer to pay his cousin s drug debt. Matthew Andrew Harry, 32, took a key to B&M Bargains in Regent Street, Wrexham, from a former colleague s handbag and stole 1,500 from the safe on July 23. He told police he used the key to enter, disabled the alarm and switched off the store s CCTV system and took the money from the safe before leaving to pay a man who had given him until 7pm that day to pay him.
Rhian Jackson, prosecuting at Wrexham Magistrates Court yesterday, said supervisor Bethany Brooks had locked up at 5.45pm and had gone to Lord Street to wait for a bus home
Harry, of Cunliffe Street in Wrexham, was working as a security guard there and invited Miss Brooks to his office for a cup of tea. He asked Miss Brooks to get some milk from a nearby shop and, when she went to pick up her bag, told her to leave it there. Miss Brooks had no concerns about leaving it with him, Miss Jackson said, and returned shortly afterwards.
When she went to work the next morning, two colleagues asked her what she had done with the previous day s takings as they were not there. Miss Brooks then found her keys had been stolen and it emerged the alarm had been deactivated at 6.40pm and reactivated 10 minutes later. Wrexham Council CCTV cameras showed Harry leaving the bus station and going to Regent Street before disappearing off camera and making the return journey and arriving at 6.53pm.
Harry was later arrested and became upset when interviewed, and told officers a man had threatened him regarding his cousin s debt. He was being pursued for the money as the cousin had gone into hiding and told police he was in genuine fear that he would be harmed. Miss Jackson added Harry told officers that he had reported the matter, but no action had been taken.
He had previously paid 1,000 and was given until 7pm on the day of the theft to pay more, and told police he felt as if he had no other option. Harry claimed the theft was not planned, but he noticed the keys and saw the opportunity to take them, Miss Jackson said. After the theft he handed the money to the man who had been threatening him and threw the key down a drain somewhere in Rhos.
Magistrates heard Harry had seven convictions for 23 offences, which included dishonesty, but had not been in trouble since 2005. Probation officer Andrew Connah said Harry took full responsibility for his offence and did not seek to minimise it in any way. If Harry had the opportunity to apologise to Miss Brooks he would do, but could not face her because he was ashamed of his behaviour.
Magistrates heard Harry had lost his job, but planned to study music and sound management at university in September. Harry pleaded guilty at the hearing to burglary. Ceri Lewis, defending, added Harry had fully admitted the burglary and wanted to apologise to all concerned.
Incidents had been reported to police, she added, and a statement had not been completed because an officer had been on leave. But there was an ongoing investigation and a statement relating to seven matters including threats and assaults was set to be formalised. The burglary was an opportunistic matter after Harry had again been threatened with violence.
Magistrates made a community order for 12 months with 300 hours of unpaid work. Magistrates chairman Roy Dolan told Harry that was the maximum amount of hours allowed and his credit for an early guilty plea was that he was not being sent to custody . You re a very lucky man here today, he added.
He must pay 1,684.62 to B&M Bargains, 85 in prosecution costs and the same amount as a surcharge.
A man today said a security officer who saved his life will always be a hero to his family. Alan Tait was visiting Aberdeen from Orkney and was spending time in the Union Square shopping mall until it was time for the ferry home. The 50-year-old suddenly felt dizzy and dropped to the ground he had suffered a heart attack.
Security guard Shaun Gibb received a call to assist a shopper who had taken ill . He quickly realised what was happening and started to administer CPR. Due to his quick thinking Alan, whose heart stopped for five minutes, is making a full recovery
Alan, who was taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, today praised Shaun for saving his life. He said: I am so grateful to him . He will always be a hero to my family .
When I woke up, I was being told by someone to lie still because I was trying to sit up.
I remember seeing someone opposite me looking rather flush as well.
I understand he d given me CPR . I believe I was dead for five minutes and was blue. Alan has been in hospital recovering since the incident on Sunday and was expected to go home today. He said: I cannot thank everyone who has helped me enough . The ambulance crew and staff at the hospital have been fantastic.
I had a stent put in and I am due to go home I will be glad to see my family.
Alan added: CPR training should be compulsory for everyone . It really makes the difference between life and death . If he had not been so quick and didn t know what I would not be here today . I will be forever grateful to him. Shaun had just arrived for his shift when a call came in to assist a colleague .
He added: When I arrived on the scene a shopper, Alan Tait, was on the ground and my colleague was on the phone to the ambulance I felt for a pulse and realised I needed to start CPR immediately.
Finally, Alan came round with a gasp of air and I explained what happened as he was quite confused I reassured him until the ambulance arrived.
It s great to have such a good outcome and I hope Alan makes a full recovery. Shaun also praised the rest of the staff at the city centre shopping centre. He said: I wouldn t say it was just me, the whole Union Square team was behind me.
Ryan Manson, general manager of Union Square, said: We are happy to hear the customer is on his way to recovering from the incident and commend our security team for their quick thinking, professionalism and unwavering motivation to care for our customers under any circumstance.
Our security team recently earned the British Security Industry Associations National Security Personnel Award for Best Team which without a doubt was well deserved.
Let s all learn skills to be real livesavers , Page 18