Do You Feel Secure?

Cybersecurity is one of the unspoken yet staggeringly large concerns of any industrial nation these days. This concern comes in two levels: infrastructure and personal. Big federal agencies concern themselves with cyberattacks on infrastructure, big businesses make money off people’s concerns about their personal information.

And I’ll bet you’re thinking this is about banking accounts, credit card accounts and the like.

We can cover that, too, and this post is about your face, your skin, … basically your biomarkers, those things that uniquely identify you as you to biosensors, including things like heart rate, breathing, blood flow, et cetera.

Biosensors? Have you ever been anywhere where you had to pass through something that scanned your body (have you flown lately?) or some part of your body (do you login to your company’s computers via a fingerprint?)?

Welcome to Biosensors

Consider the Future Attributes Screening Technology and Screening Passengers by Observation Technique (FAST and SPOT, respectively. See Airport security: Intent to deceive?). If we can’t trust our neighbors to do the math, can we trust them to make reliable observations about us?

These are actually telling questions for NextStage. We demonstrated a detection system back in 2001 that, when deployed on a website (and didn’t require any form of biosensors…or was the most exacting biosensor in its day and still is, depending on your point of view), would recognize that a visitor was having malicious thoughts about whatever they were viewing. Imagine knowing ahead of time that someone was having bad thoughts about a national football game and that those thoughts had nothing to do with who might win but was directed to how much destruction might be achieved?

We talked to then US Senators Gregg and Sununu.

We sent material to the FBI and CIA.

And nobody was interested.

Let me repeat that; Nobody was interested!

It’s the same system that is now reporting on site visitor activity in over 120 countries worldwide.

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? But systems that gather biometric markers as you walk through a crowd are currently under consideration.

By everybody.

So the next question is, how and where is all this gathered data to be stored? And who will have access? And for what reasons?

I’ve miles and miles of files, pretty files, of your forefather’s fruit, and now to suit our great computer, you’re magnetic ink1

You thought it was disturbing that 80,000 people’s credit card information was hacked? Imagine having your biologic trail stored somewhere and it being hacked! NextStage, partnering with Critical Mass, did some research on how different groups view “privacy” (See The Privacy Interview. One of that research’s findings is that boomers and millennials think of privacy quite differently: boomers view privacy loss as a personal attack, millennials view privacy loss as simply something that happens.).

Would they think the same way about loss of personal biometric data? Oddly enough, they might. Research shows that how millennials view personal social interaction is greatly different from boomers. Random “couplings” are much more prevalent than they were as little as ten years ago, mostly thanks to the social media revolution. One of the things we learned was demonstrated in social responsibility concepts: Boomers have car insurance in case they have an accident, millennials have car insurance so they can have an accident. Yet one of the first things determined during an accident is biologic culpability (we learn biologic culpability when newscasters tell us “drugs and alcohol were a factor…”).

I’m more than that, I know I am1

But biometric data stolen or compromised? That’s not really something people need to be worried about. Face it, very few people are so important that knowing their biologic activities and whereabouts in a given day are interesting enough to pilfer.

But paranoia is a wonderful thing. Remember, just because someone’s paranoid doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Maybe hacking biologic data is a real concern moving forward.

If you have trouble reconciling your bank statement, imagine having to keep track and reconcile where you’ve left pieces of yourself; skin, saliva, hair, …

And imagine being able to take a random sample from a public place and use it to falsify markers left elsewhere. Like crime scenes. DNA samples are becoming de reguerre as court evidence.

What if yours is hacked and is left hither and yon?

Voting may still be economics bound. Be ready to start voting on biologic privacy economics issues.


1: I first heard The Moody Blues In the Beginning at Hugh Mallet’s house long, long ago back as a freshman in high school. The lyrics significance caught me then because, while a poor highschool student, I was putting in time at MIT’s Lincoln Labs working in TX2 and not allowed to discuss my studies with anyone else. Anywhere. Ever.


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