Disruptive Technology Impacts on Security

Disruptive Technology Impacts on Security

Sue Conger (University of Dallas, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-855-0.ch023
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Historically, companies have automated a security model that analogizes the concept of a “guardian” who monitors incoming and outgoing activities and data, and this has worked with emerging technologies to this point. This chapter introduces imminent technologies (RFID chips, GPS, and smart motes) and discusses their disruptive effects on network security. Options for mitigating the risks are developed. These technologies are sufficiently disruptive to require a paradigm shift in securing and safeguarding data.
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New Technologies Challenge Security Paradigms

Three technologies—Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and smart motes—will force organizations to change the way they perceive security needs in the coming years. Rogers (1995) defined an S-curve of innovation that projects market growth over time (see Figure 1). Each of these technologies is in a different stage of maturation (see Figure 1), but each promises to change privacy issues and extend challenges to individuals in protecting their personal information. GPS, introduced in 1978, and imbedded in all U.S. cell phones, is a maturing industry for hand-held GPS with a U.S. market expected to reach $22 billion in 2008 and a global market about triple at $60 billion (David, 2003; ETRI, 2005). Therefore, GPS is toward the top of the diffusion growth curve and represents a relatively mature technology. RFID, developed in the 1940s, is still finding its market. While it has had significant press, primarily because of privacy concerns, the technology is still in a growth phase, represented in the figure as mid-way up the S-curve. Smart motes enjoy limited commercialization and are still under development (Warneke & Pister, 2004). As such, they are the least mature technology and are about at the beginning growth inflection point on the S-curve.

Figure 1.

S Curve of innovation and emerging technologies


These technologies are representative of technology directions in that they are pervasive, portable and embedded. As nano-technologies develop more fully in the coming decade, they will offer more novel disruption to corporate security paradigms. The three technologies here provide a “warm-up” for companies to become agile and clever in security management.



Developed in the 1940s, RFID is a technology that uses wireless computer chips to track items at a distance (Anonymous, 2002). RFID systems require two basic elements: a transponder and an interrogator. The RFID tag (see Figure 1) is the transponder composed of an integrated circuit fused to a small antenna, and, if passive, requires no internal electrical power (Alien Technology, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

RFID: Radio Frequency Identification hardware and software built into some type of tag (e.g., cloth, paper, plastic) that acts as a transponder to emit a signal that can uniquely identify the device to which it is attached.

Nanotechnologies: The field of applied science that seeks manufacturing and control of devices and materials at a scale 100 nanometers or smaller.

Confidentiality: Managing and maintaining information such that it is known no more widely than necessary.

Vulnerability: Any weakness in a system (typically a computer system) that poses a risk of attack to the owner.

Availability: The ability of a computer component or service to perform its required function at a stated time or over a stated period of time.

Integrity: The assurance that information is untainted. This strictly means that the information put into the computer is the same as the information that comes back later. Integrity is often also used to mean data is accurate.

GPS: Global Positioning System is a device that uses a government-controlled satellite system to provide location identification to within 9 feet (2 meters) of its earth-bound position.

Smart Motes: Very small (soon to be nano-sized) self-managing networks of wireless microelectromechanical sensors (MEMS) capable of wireless communication for up to several years. At present their functioning is limited to environmental sensing such as light and temperature. The ultimate goal is for smart motes to become artificially intelligent robots capable of complete interpretation of their environment via aerosol, paint, ingestion, or other novel methods of delivery.

Corporate Self-Regulation: A method of management for privacy that is free of government regulation and relies on the beneficent actions of corporations acting as ‘good citizens.’

Security: The management of risk such that the probability of intrusions, breaches, and leaks is minimized, and that, should a problem occur, that it is identified, managed, and prevented from future occurrence.

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