Do we put too much trust in tech?

Do we put too much trust in tech?
Safe as houses? That's what you think...

The story of Trendnet and its home security cameras that were being used by random internet dwellers to spy on their owners can't fail to send a shiver down your spine.

There you are thinking you've got a pretty nifty safety mechanism in your home - the sanctuary you go to escape all the horrors of the world, the only place you can really and truly relax and be yourself - but the next thing you know you and your family are being ogled on message boards across the internet.

It doesn't sound real: it sounds like a film, possibly one starring Mark Wahlberg or latter-day Jodie Foster, and it highlighted two things:

1. People are, essentially, awful.

Posting instructions on how to hack into these cameras online was the internet equivalent of finding a wallet on the street and nicking the cash before handing it in to the police.

So busy was Console Cowboys giving itself a pat on the back for out-witting some shoddy lines of code that it didn't stop to think about the consequences for anyone who owned one of these cameras.

But then again, taking this information and running with it (relentlessly searching for boobs, because the internet is nothing if not a pubescent boy) is pretty grim too.

It's non-consensual Chat Roulette. It's installing a two-way mirror in a toilet cubicle. It's being a peeping Tom. It's seedy and it's horrible.

2. You can't take for granted that tech is on your side.

Generally speaking, tech is pretty brilliant. But, like the people who make it, it is not infallible.

Did those people whose videos ended up being discussed on message boards with links to their live feeds alongside, in some cases, map locations put too much trust in the Trendnet cameras and the people who made them?

If the last 12 months with its never-ending Anonymous attacks and PSN outages have shown nothing else, they've proven that no company is 100 per cent secure. In this situation, you have to question whether people should really be leaving these digital windows into their physical lives wide open.

I'm not saying we should call it a day, shut down the internet and go back to carrier pigeons and cassette tapes. But maybe we do all need to take a look at what the technology we've surrounded ourselves with is capable of and ask if the physical hardware is as secure as we're trusting it to be.

People get into the tiny cracks and loopholes left by our gadgets one way or another, and more often than not it's via the internet. That's why we need initiatives like Safer Internet Day that help to educate and, hopefully, stem things like cyber bullying, ID theft and other malicious threats that manifest themselves online where people don't feel like they have to answer to anyone.

Sci-fi would have it that one day our technology will become sentient and turn against us in revenge for the years of being treated like the inanimate objects we all thought they were. If we can't even be decent to one another now while the tech is behaving itself, what hope do we have against the gadgets?

News Editor (UK)

Former UK News Editor for TechRadar, it was a perpetual challenge among the TechRadar staff to send Kate (Twitter, Google+) a link to something interesting on the internet that she hasn't already seen. As TechRadar's News Editor (UK), she was constantly on the hunt for top news and intriguing stories to feed your gadget lust. Kate now enjoys life as a renowned music critic – her words can be found in the i Paper, Guardian, GQ, Metro, Evening Standard and Time Out, and she's also the author of 'Amy Winehouse', a biography of the soul star.