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Collision Conference | Day two: hacked through your toothbrush

It's day two of the Collision Conference, and privacy remains at the forefront of our thoughts and conversations.


As if jumping on the back of Alex Stamos' "make appliances dumb again" quote, Garry Kasparov (Security Ambassador of Avast and chess grandmaster) was keen to point out the dangers of interconnected devices in his presentation with Ondrej Vicek (CEO of Avast), and explained how users can accidentally create weak-points in their network without even realizing it:

We were warning people about these home appliances that're all interconnected, and they created natural targets for bad guys - because the strength/resilience of your system depends on the weakest link, and many of these weakest links came from the companies that had a great history of manufacturing freezers and other devices, but they never had experience with internet and the online connections.

Garry Kasparov

More and more devices are becoming "smart" nowadays, especially products that don't need to be (like your refrigerator or your toothbrush).

The reality is that any device that becomes connected to the internet through an IP network, or any other network, becomes a potential target, and that's something that people don't realize.

Ondrej Vicek

Privacy and security was a recurring theme throughout day two, as panelists from 'Ethical and responsible AI: Where do we go from here?' discussed regulation from governments and the importance of enforcing such regulations. As Tina Eliasi-Rad noted, "Regulation without teeth is nothing"

Another exciting discussion was had with Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Brittany Kaiser, wherein she drew attention to privacy-by-design technology (such as alternative browsers and messaging services), and discussed her role in shaping the future of legislation following her unveiling of Cambridge Analytica. Kaiser has proven pivotal in shaping the future of data protection and continues to be an inspiration for people in the industry.

Kaiser's presentation reminded me of Katherine Maher's call for more job positions and insight to assist legislators earlier in the day. Maher's suggestion drew attention to the lack of technical understanding of legislators, and how hiring experts to break down complex information would help them become more technologically literate when making decisions. By creating more informed legislation, governments can stay on top of the ever-changing field and ensure that citizens' digital rights are respected and protected. 

If there's one key takeaway from the conference so far, it's that the industry is crying out for greater protection, regulation, and enforcement. At the very least, we must hold ourselves and others accountable for protecting the digital privacy, and petition our governments for greater regulation and enforcement of our digital rights.

Stay tuned for our final round-up and thoughts about the Collision Conference tomorrow!

Written by: Andreas Theodorou

Andreas is Content Editor at Having graduated with a first-class BA (Hons) in English, he completed a Master of Research degree at Liverpool John Moores University and has continued to pursue research at every opportunity. Andreas started as a Tech Writer/Expert Reviewer at ProPrivacy before stepping up as Content Editor. A devout researcher, wordsmith, and foodie, he can usually be found at his computer, in the kitchen, or tinkering with (what used to be) a car.


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