Friday, August 11, 2017

The virus link

Rod of Asclepius2.svg
If we were to ask about the Rod of Asclepius and Cybersecurity, more than one would shrug and, in turn, would ask: "Rod of what, who, what about security?" But the so-called universal symbol of Medicine, also known as the Rod of Aesculapius, is increasingly related to this sector. Who knows. Maybe someday we will end up going to the doctor to get antimalware pills and eye drops for the ransomware that makes us see everything with little bars. Science fiction? Techie humor? Neither one nor the other.

In our review of the weekly most important stories, today we have to put in a prominent place the first successful exploit whose mission is to infect a device from a DNA sequence. Researchers say that is similar to connect a USB with "surprise" to a computer: the target computer tries to decipher the information contained in the genetic code and, while doing so, zas!, it is hijacked by malware hidden in DNA. Today is a simple experiment, tomorrow can serve to any purpose, even any ethical purpose, that we may think of. Who would say that the link between health and bits would end up making so much sense through the word "virus".

We are moving into a world where you have to be very careful about having a digital cold. In the race of public authorities towards... (let the reader fill in), the British government has considered that it is a good option to charge the careless companies. As if being hacked did not already have undesirable consequences at reputational, corporate and economic level, in the UK the joke can be even more expensive, up to 22 million euros, or 17 million pounds. It is the graceful fine of Her Majesty for exposing others to an unsolicited risk. Whenever it's your fault. In fact you do not even have to be compromised, it is enough to prove that you are not applying the correct measures of protection. Will it be the best option to "hedge the bets"?

The point is that sometimes protection is an ineffective measure. For example, this week we have had news of two retroviruses typical of any transmission disease... without software. How do you protect yourself from something like that? The first one: autonomous cars, they can be hacked as we already know... but you can simply fool them via post-it with wit (and some nastiness) in any traffic signal. The second: smart doors, which have been programmed with such intelligence that they give access information even not using any type of electrical device. Mister Doctor, what do you prescribe for something like that? And what do you prescribe to avoid being hacked into the electrical system by taking advantage of the 21 vulnerabilities that have been found in the connected solar panels of one of the most important wholesalers?

De siempre se ha sabido que es mejor prevenir que curar. Los parches de seguridad están supuestamente para eso: para tapar agujeros por donde se nos podría haber colado alguna bacteria malintencionada (si es que no lo ha hecho ya y no nos hemos dado cuenta). Y hemos tenido una semana con parches para todos los gustos: MicrosoftAndroid y Adobe. No, mejor no preguntemos cuántas vulnerabilidades se han solucionado, ni cuántos equipos están debidamente actualizados para incorporar esos parches. El susto puede ser más perjudicial para la salud que la ignorancia propiamente dicha.

It has always been known that prevention is better than cure. The security patches are supposed to do that: to plug holes where some malicious bacteria could have sneaked (if they have not done so already and we have not noticed). And we have had a week with patches for all tastes: Microsoft, Android and Adobe. No, let's not ask how many vulnerabilities have been fixed, or how many computers are properly upgraded to incorporate those patches. Fright can be more harmful to health than ignorance itself.

Medicine and cybersecurity, two disciplines linked beyond the already known holes that present hundreds of thousands of devices connected in hospitals and health centers. And be aware: viruses and bacteria are beings that, like any of the readers of this blog, are genetically programmed for a main mission: to survive. Do not forget it.


Imagen: Wikipedia.
By Original: CatherinMunro derivative work: Hazmat2 
This file was derived from:  Rod of asclepius.pngCC BY-SA 3.0Link

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