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Sat, Aug 30, 2014

LOGUE: Public should demand better cyber security

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It seems that computers and cell phones insist on updating themselves almost every time you log on.

Take the recent “Danger, Will Robinson!” alert Apple sent out to consumers.

Over the weekend of Feb. 21, Apple issued a patch for a security flaw in iPhones and iPads.

At least one computer expert thinks that Apple’s approach to security leaves a lot to be desired.

Michael Hiltzik, who writes about technology for the Los Angeles Times, states, “What programmers find mind-boggling is that the flaw is the result of a single stray line of software code and appears to be the product of nothing more than sloppy cut-and-paste editing.”

Hiltzik cites a programmer named Lloyd Chambers, who calls this “Apple core rot.” Chambers believes that Apple is so giddy about selling devices to buyers who are only concerned with entertainment that it’s ignoring a basic consumer need—reliability.

Perhaps it’s just the reporter in me coming through, but I don’t think the timing of Apple’s weekend message is coincidental.

The following Monday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder came out in favor of a national standard for consumer notification about cyberspace security breaches in his weekly video address.

Banks and hospitals are mandated by federal laws to notify customers of possible security breaches, but there is no federal statute requiring retailers to notify their customers in a similar timely manner.

“Although the Justice Department officials are working closely with the FBI and prosecutors across the country to bring cybercriminals to justice, it is time for leaders in Washington to provide the tools that we need to do even more by requiring businesses to notify consumers and law enforcement in the wake of significant data breaches,” Holder said.

Red flags were raised more by the publicized cyber security problems at Target, Michael’s and Neiman Marcus than by a situation such as a settings update on an iPhone.

But the bottom-line message is the same in both situations: you can’t be slipshod in cyberspace.

I’m no Luddite, but my own attitude toward digital technology is mostly utilitarian. If I can use a device as a tool, fine, but I’m not going to spend half of the rest of my life obsessed with watching little messages fly through the air.

If we’re so sophisticated, why don’t we take the devices for granted, use them when necessary or entertaining and put them away when they’re not needed?

As the football coach said when the youngster danced in the end zone, “Act like you’ve been there before, son.”

Since digital devices became utterly ubiquitous and necessary, it seems that some manufacturers have taken for granted that our addiction is their fortune.

If that is the case, we need to demand that they at least make security and guards against bugs and hackers top priority. Before the research and development department puts the next new gizmos in the stores, make sure that the basics are covered.

The snazziest sports car on the market isn’t worth a darned thing if it’s unable to take you from point A to point B in safety.

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computers, cyber, gina logue, security
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