The Fiji TimesVehicle cyber security and technostress

The Fiji TimesVehicle cyber security and technostress

Just when you thought driving modern high-tech cars was safer than the old classics, recently revealed that several software bugs affecting millions of vehicles from 16 different manufacturers can be hacked to unlock, start and track cars, plus affect the privacy of car owners.

The security vulnerabilities were found in the automotive APIs that power Acura, BMW, Ferrari, Ford, Genesis, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, Kia, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Porsche, Rolls Royce, Toyota as well as in Reviver software , SiriusXM and Spireon.

The flaws range widely, from those that provide access to internal corporate systems and user information to vulnerabilities that would allow an attacker to remotely send commands to achieve code execution.

The research builds on earlier findings from late last year, when Yuga Labs researcher Sam Curry detailed security flaws in a connected vehicle service provided by SiriusXM that could potentially put cars at risk of external attacks.

The most serious of the problems, involving Spireon’s telematics solution, could have been exploited to gain full administrative access, allowing an adversary to issue arbitrary commands to some 15.5 million vehicles as well as update the device’s firmware.

“This would have allowed us to track and turn off starters for police, ambulances and police cars for a number of different large cities and send commands to these vehicles,” the researchers said.

Other bugs make it possible to access or modify customer records, internal dealer portals, track vehicle GPS locations in real-time, manage license plate data for all Reviver customers and even update vehicle status as “stolen”.

The interconnectedness of our digital devices makes it more challenging to secure cars – as exemplified by the fact that cyber attacks on cars have increased by almost 300 percent in the past three years, with approximately 90 percent of these attacks carried out remotely.

It is obvious that as the technology of cars becomes more advanced, so does the complexity of their intelligent software systems. Furthermore, identifying the vulnerabilities in the software supply chain caused by “smart” features requires deep knowledge of software and hardware systems and an understanding of the custom protocols specific to connected vehicles and their in-car systems.

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Should you be concerned, maybe just make sure the vehicle is well maintained, not only physically/operationally, but also through software updates and patches.

Ask your car dealer when performing regular maintenance.

Recently, an insightful blog by Joanne Griffin on techno-stress (is there such a word?) got me thinking about the long-term effects. Basically, the premise is that in modern times, technology has introduced a new type of threat – information overload – and a whole new reward system – likes and followers! Both can be addictive and potentially harmful to our brain.

In an ideal world, our daily use of technology would improve eustress and alleviate distress.

However, increasing evidence shows that technology-induced stress is reaching pandemic proportions and has the potential to undermine organizational agility and the adoption of new technologies. Technostress is our time’s new uberstressor.

Spurred on by the pervasive use of technology in our lives and the increased digitization of work, this new source of stress transcends geographic and cultural barriers, wreaking havoc on organizations and societies.

A constant barrage of new devices and apps creates unprecedented demands on our paleolithic brains, while our dopamine receptors are rewired by the digital age, leaving many of us feeling cramped and unfulfilled by our daily grind.

The term technostress was first introduced by American psychotherapist Craig Brod in 1984.

Even before the digital age, Brod described this new form of stress as “a modern disease of adaptation caused by the inability to deal with the new computer technologies in a healthy way”.

As with everyday stress, technostress can have both positive and negative effects. When technology induces eustress, we are challenged and motivated by the opportunity to grow and learn.

In the eustress zone, technological apps can deliver satisfaction and joy, help us make decisions and enable us to adapt with ease.

With technology at its best, organizations can improve performance, efficiency and innovation.

On the downside, techno-needs can make employees feel undervalued and unrecognised. Technostress is usually triggered in the following circumstances:

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• When there is a high dependence on technology;

• When we perceive a gap between what we know and what we need to know, and

• We are discovering a change in work culture caused by technology.

Apparently, this type of stress gives way to physiological symptoms such as fatigue, irritability and insomnia, and a number of psychological symptoms such as frustration, extra mental strain, skepticism, reduction in job satisfaction, reduced commitment and lower productivity.

Research on technostress has picked up in recent years as we seek to understand the underlying causes of low adoption, failed digital transformations and declining workplace productivity. While new findings continue to emerge, technostress is most often analyzed across five key domains.

Each domain acts as an individual “stressor” that contributes to overall levels of technostress.

These stressors act as hidden threats to digital adoption and have the potential to derail even the most carefully considered technology implementations.

The five key domains are: 1. Techno-overload 2. Techno-invasion 3. Techno-complexity 4. Techno-uncertainty 5. Techno-uncertainty

Techno overload

Too much to take into account, not enough mental space. We have learned that our human capacity to adapt to technological change has been compromised by info-obsession and choice overload in recent years. Trying to keep up with the latest updates and features across all of our applications is nearly impossible. New features often signal something new for us to learn and adapt to. While technology processes tasks faster, it can inadvertently create more work when production goes to a human. The pressure to adapt and maintain productivity at the same time is a common source of anxiety in the digital age of work!

Techno invasion

Accelerated by the pandemic, work apps have invaded our personal devices, our personal space and our personal lives. The boundaries between work and home have become irretrievably blurred, making it more difficult to detach from work or focus on rest. Our “always on” culture means we’re more accessible, to more people, more of the time: while we may be out of sight when working remotely, we’re rarely out of touch.

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Techno complexity

Each and every one of us has encountered a new piece of technology that comes with more features and functions than we could ever need or use. The wide variety of functions and seemingly endless possibilities can scare any user. Research shows that employees use only 40 percent of the features of any software application. No wonder we are disillusioned with digital transformations that promised to make our lives easier! While training can help – a holistic approach to classroom training is rarely an effective way to drive digital adoption. We don’t have the time and mental resources to invest in learning and understanding how to use every feature, so we do our best to intuitively navigate new systems, often feeling helpless and inadequate when we do.

Techno uncertainty

As technology expands the corporate footprint, many employees are naturally eager to understand how they will be affected.

Techno uncertainty

We accept that technology is evolving at an increasing rate, and we are under pressure to learn and adapt to new tools and features at a faster pace than ever before. The knowledge and skills we have spent years perfecting are becoming obsolete at an accelerated pace, and the demands of new learning can drain our mental capacities. It’s time to prioritize human evolution (and peace of mind) over technological revolution. As a wise person once observed, ‘Always take time to stop and smell the roses…’ God bless and stay safe in both the digital and physical worlds.

• ILAITIA B. TUISAWAU is a private cyber security consultant. The views expressed in this article are his and are not necessarily shared by this newspaper. Mr Tuisawau can be contacted at [email protected]

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