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15 Jun 2017

Vulnerable technologies: Ilya Sotnikov from Netwrix talks about balance between innovations and security

On June 5 Amazon said it has pulled smart toys CloudPets out from its online store. On June 8 at CEMS White Nights conference Head of product management department at Netwrix Ilya Sotnikov explained why did the largest Internet retailer decided to do this and what should a future entrepreneur think about while creating new apps and gadgets. Lecture by Ilya Sotnikov  was held during conference CEMS White Nights.



CloudPets, made by Spiral Toys, is a talking toy that's connected online, uses voice recordings and an online app through Bluetooth. “A massage you can hug” is said on CloudPets webpage. It turned out that not only to hug but also to hack. In 2017 hackers were able to access CloudPets' database, containing email addresses, passwords and voice recordings from children. The breach affected more than 800,000 people. Then other vulnerability was discovered. Experts found out that anyone within range of 10 meters with a smartphone can connect to a toy and hear what is going on around it and even turn on their own record. However the main concern is not the CloudPets vulnerabilities but the fact that company doesn’t care about their users’ security and doesn’t make an effort to resolve this problem and prevent the attacks.

This was one of the examples that Ilya Sotnikov gave to illustrate the idea of how important app security is: “If you are a four years old toddler and a toy that you love, that you go to bed with, that talks to you, that hugs you tells you: hey go to the door and open it. Would you do it? You probably would”. Ilya Sotnikov explained that great idea became a threat because the creators of CloudPets didn’t take into account all the possible outcomes. According to him, young entrepreneurs should calculate such risks and do everything possible to protect their users. To do this, he suggested to use the Walt Disney strategy.

It is said, that Walt Disney used to think-up and refine ideas by breaking the process into three distinct parts: the dreamer, the realist and the spoiler (or critic). “Any project starts with an idea, with a vision and a fantasy, then you need to evaluate your capabilities and choose those ideas that you can achieve, and then look at them as tough critic,” — said Ilya Sotnikov. He explained that technological process is always connected with risks and fears. For example, people were afraid of trains, planes and thought that the Eiffel Tower would fall. However, the industrial revolution is an inevitable process. "I'm sure that new technologies improve lives of many people. But if you ignore the risks, the consequences can be terrible." — concluded Ilya Sotnikov.

Conference CEMS White Nights 2018 took place in St. Petersburg from June 8 to 9. CEMS is a global alliance of academic and corporate institutions dedicated to educating future generations of international business leaders. This year in conference  participated representatives of P&G, Hilti, Netwrix, JetBrains, Lenta, Boft, FC Zenit as well as GSOM graduates who represented companies Waves Platform, Disciplina, DOC +, Yula. Guests discussed fourth industrial revolution, its challenges and opportunities.