Our Instrumented Lives: Sensors, Sensors, Everywhere...

Presented at DEF CON 18 (2010), July 30, 2010, 11 a.m. (50 minutes)

Make no mistake, your analog life is under siege. Virtually every facet of your day to day existence is being sampled, digitized, aggregated, collated, shared, and reality mined. Whether the reason is to support your friendly neighborhood targeted advertiser or to help win a war on terror, a thickening web of sensors tracks our day to day existence in the physical world. Sensors are everywhere: our sneakers, cell phones, appliances, game consoles, power meters, automobiles, highways, bridges, airports, shopping malls and night clubs, among many others. At the same time, technologies that uniquely identify us from a sea of others are on the rise. Financial and other incentives motivate many to start sampling our lives and the law does little to protect us. Convergence of the resultant islands of data is occurring now. More important however is the next step. Because sampling is occurring on a scale never before imaginable, our uniqueness and individuality are giving way to previously impossible models of collective and individual human behavior. How these models will be used is up for debate, but you can be certain they will be abused by some. This talk examines the problem of our impending instrumented existence, studies where it is all going, and provides you with ways to defend yourself, your family, and friends.


  • Greg Conti - Academy Professor, West Point
    Greg Conti is an Academy Professor and Director of West Point's Cyber Security Research Center. His research includes online privacy, cyber warfare, security data visualization, and usable security. He is the author of Security Data Visualization (No Starch Press) and Googling Security (Addison-Wesley). His hobbies include woodturning and helping humanity avoid a dystopian future. His work can be found at www.gregconti.com and www.rumint.org.