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In 2017, some tech trends scared us more than others. This year, these were the ones keeping us up at night... starting with the destruction of identity privacy.
"I continue to be surprised that people haven't realized that identity privacy was destroyed by the Equifax fiasco," says contributing editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols. "For years -- decades -- we've used Social Security numbers as a de facto national-identity number. I expect consumer fraud to explode any day now to levels that could wreck the economy."
"While the smallest segment of this [hacked] information can cause utter chaos in a person's life, there seems to be no real consequences to... lax security resulting in theft," says contributor Charlie Osborne. "That's frightening."
"Love 'em, but they're in the hands of amateurs -- including me," CBSi distinguished lecturer David Gerwitz says about drones. "We'll see them drop out of the sky on people, drop payloads, spy, and otherwise cause constant trouble."
We're not along in fearing drones, by the way. They're a national-security concern, too. FBI director Christopher Wray told a US Senate panel that terrorist organizations have used drones to unleash attacks overseas.
"The expectation is it's coming here imminently," Wray said.
Oh: And the rest of America is spooked, too. According to a new survey, a drone swarm is the No. 1 technology fear of Americans, topping self-driving cars, self-learning computers, and "robots that teach each other."
Six weeks after WannaCry, the Petya cyberattack struck. "[It] showed that many just hadn't learned lessons from the previous outbreak," Palmer says. "Just imagine the havoc that can be caused if this careless attitude to device security is taken in an ever-more connected world."
"I think about [the digital divide] whenever I go to a tech conference in San Francisco, and pass through the tents that line the streets between the Caltrain station and the Moscone Center," our Stephanie Condon says. "I worry about people who will be left out of a more connected society."
Make that, our "crappy" electrical infrastructure. That's how CBSi's David Gewirtz puts it when he explains why extreme-weather events, such as hurricanes, have the potential to "blast [us] back to the Stone Age."
A just-released study confirms Condon is not alone in her fear: 40 percent of surveyed consumers think face-ID programs are "too risky and unknown for them to use right now," CNBC reported.
"I see a towering disaster in the ICO (Initial Coin Offering) sector," says ZDNet contributor Tom Foremski. "Billions are being invested in technology startups of dubious qualifications and abilities... It's wide open to abuse."
Per Foremski, an ICO collapse would also hamper legitimate developments in cryptocurrency, and, in turn, hurt the developing world's ability to access small loans and e-commerce.
ZDNet UK reviews editor Charles McLellan says he fears IoT cyberattacks could devastate "critical infrastructure in healthcare, energy, transport, manufacturing" and other sectors.