One aspect of software that nearly everyone experiences from time to time is, well, bugs. Frankly, the fact that Macs and iPhones and iPads and the internet works at all is little short of a miracle, but everyone has experienced a few bugs here and there.
As many of us get onto the same platform– about 500-million iPhone users, nearly 80-million Mac users, and 300-million iPad users– we’re susceptible to bugs that can impact many tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of customers. Most are not life threatening, but some could be.
For example, a GPS glitch in Maps, or errant data could cause a driver to become lost. That has happened and with disastrous results.
Here’s another. Google’s Nest, a company started by a former Apple employee, makes thermostats. Smart thermostats. What could happen to a few million homes in the dead of winter if there’s a bug that rears an ugly head?
Nest owners have reported that their smart thermostats have stopped working and as a result many woke up to colder than normal temperature in their house and unresponsive completely dead Nests. The fault lies in a software update (version 5.1.3 or later) that was pushed out to devices in December that drains the battery and ultimately shuts down the device.
Shades of Y2K.
Worse, because the software update was pushed out to most Next thermostat owners, even older units were affected, and the bug did not actually materialize for a few weeks after the update.
Apple says that more than 75-percent of all iPad and iPhone users have upgraded to iOS 9.x. That means a critical bug could be lurking in the background for hundreds of millions of Apple customers.
Now, think of what could happen if the governments around the world get their way and all devices must make available a backdoor access to each device to make it easier to catch criminals before they commit their crimes. Once that backdoor access is in the hands of government spooks, terrorists, or criminals, then all smartphones are vulnerable to attack on a massive scale.
Bugs are one thing to be aware of, but most are inadvertent and a natural aspect of ongoing software development. Snoops, spooks, terrorists, and criminals are a different issue, hence the reason Apple and Google provide end-to-end encryption; the very same encryption that governments want to break, because fear.
There should be customer concern about software and hardware bugs, but there should be citizen concern regarding privacy and security; the very elements of society that governments should protect, so how is taking it away actually protecting citizens?