How Many Credit Cards Have You Lost

April 27, 2011
Sony's Playstation Network (PSN) was breached and account, including credit card information, was taken. Is this a problem only for large companies or is this an issue that embedded developers need to examine.

My last blog, To The Cloud - In Your Dreams or Nightmares, was apparently just looking at the tip of the iceberg. It now appears that Sony's Playstation Network (PSN) was breached and account, including credit card information, was taken.

If you are like me, you have used a credit card for online purchases. If you have then you probably have received at least one or more notices that your information has been accidentally scattered to the winds. These days it is almost necessary to cancel your credit card monthly so you can stay ahead of this type of loss. This alone is worth a major rant but I'll leave that to others.

What I want to address are issues of the cloud, security and embedded design. In particular, it is up to developers to incorporate layered security within a design. The Sony breach is an example of a firewall approach where a single breach opens the floodgates and impacts millions. In many ways, embedded designs can be more catastrophic especially when objects like cars and planes are in the mix.

I am working on an article about how mobile devices like smartphones are going to be interacting with automobiles. This is initially targeted at infotainment with direct wireless links to the the multimedia head ends within a vehicle. These are connected to the underlying control system to provide status information like milage and tire pressure.

It is a bit scary hearing about the types of connections and features involved without hearing a lot about security. Standards organizations are looking at security issues but it is still a question whether best practices will emerge and be followed for those developing the underlying applications. I am less concerned about the operating systems since most have some level of security built-in although many real-time platforms lack more sophisticated policy-based security systems. SE Linux and Green Hills Integrity are some that come to mind that do provide this type of support.

PSN is still down and there is a question as to whether backups are an issue. Luckily for Sony, PSN is a private cloud so they have better control of the hardware. Then again, that could be good or bad.

I still utilize multiple credit cards simply to mitigate these kinds of problems. Typically I use one for online purchases. Unfortunately it does not matter these days because I have received more notices like these from companies that I did not interact with online. Well, I guess it is time to request a new card, again.

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