A disconnected walk in the woods

Getting out early enough to discover a smoky mist clinging to trees as if it were a worn shawl wrapping a grandmother's bent shoulders is a favored exercise. It's that hushed time when a suspended haze only just is beginning to thin as it anticipates the sun's amber rays, already painting a pink-orange sky, burning it to crystal dew. 

Finding some challenging and long hikes in the woods with two adored puppies-in-crime and maybe a beloved ally to start my day helps me ease into it more gamely, more calmly. Rather than too early, noisy incursions coming by way of iPhones, iPads or laptops to announce the graying change of black night to radiant day, I get instead chattering nuthatches, skittish coyotes, sassy chickadees, woodpeckers or huffing deer busily starting the day's chores. 

This pursuit, however, doesn't always happen. Sometimes, travel, deadlines or fretful requests see days kicking off with hasty clicks on a keyboard intermixed with frequent sips of strong chicory coffee. From time to time on those days that I have to get something unplanned done straight away, my mind drifts to how many more hours we Americans work compared to some of our European counterparts, strapping to our bodies like survival kits our various mobile devices. And then I wonder how such hours may grow longer, more demanding and more exposed as the Internet of Things (IoT) continues its fast evolution. 

...the Internet of Things (IoT) continues its fast evolution.”

The convenience and always-on connectivity IoT furnishes is inarguable, however, so are its security and privacy perils. With IoT, not only are we even further tethered to the World Wide Web while in cities and towns, but so too in remote areas of the globe formerly out of technology's reach. Attempts to find quiet isolation with family and friends unimpeded by technological connection to the wider world's light and dark sides, daily work duties or addicting social media sites are increasingly taxing to fulfill. And, because of the unremitting march by device manufactures to make seemingly everything network-enabled, any persistent privacy and security expectations are additional casualties. 

As Associate Editor Teri Robinson notes in this month's cover story, while we've yet to see IoT devices overtaken by a wave of bad guys, we already have witnessed a cybercriminal here or there leveraging weaknesses and a mob of security researchers calling out and fixing a bevy of vulnerabilities in everything from medical devices to kitchen appliances to cars. IoT brings with it promises of convenience, more productivity and (questionably) extra time. Yet, when affixing it to an already unsafe internet environment, which fortunately brings with it much of the good our world offers too, we can't ignore how many additional avenues for malicious or dangerous incidents to occur we enable. Security and privacy requirements, then, must be made key priorities now. Our cover story explores the ways we are and can continue to make this happen. 

Meantime, for my part, on those early mornings when unexpected obligations hit the email box, nattering drama-induced intrusions clog my Twitter feed, or unanticipated messages insist on a response ASAP, I'll make a point to step away from my laptop later in the day for a secluded hike among the trees and coyotes. And, I'll be sure to leave that Fitbit behind. 


Illena Armstrong is VP, editorial of SC Magazine.
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