How Nintendo is Blurring the Lines of Creepy With your iPhone and Augmented Reality

Chris Morse IT Security, News, Tech Leave a Comment

Two weeks ago, throngs of people wandering aimlessly around staring down at their phones would have made us all think that there was simply a lost gaggle of tourists collectively trying to navigate their way to true north and on to the next Chili’s. Today, this represents the next leap in both the permanence of technology into our very existence and the magnified security and privacy risks it entails.

Usually, in most scenarios, we enjoy being exposed to only a few conceivable threats at one given moment and while entangled in our digital lives, most of those are pretty clear. While walking down the street, we’re not necessarily concerned with the 11th Nigerian prince with 43 million pounds to share or your Aunt’s email containing a recipe document that was really just the payload for crypto locker. Now, the world of physical security and virtual security have been thrown into the the most ill conceived melting pot imaginable.


The world of AR has been talked about for sometime and, let’s face it, innovation will always find an audience and outpace security and privacy concerns. We are far too willing, most of us, to offer someone a digital glimpse of our physical world. We often expect that we can roam freely into and out of people’s digital lives without consequence or detection and most of us feel fine with people doing the same. Were we to translate this behavior into our physical world, things take on a completely different connotation. Yes, you might feel a little bit disturbed when your partner’s ex-lover digitally expresses their affection for their latest selfie, but you would be thrown into absolute hysteria should you find them gazing in the window at your dinner table observing you eat.

Where this presents an issue in the AR world is the dichotomy in which we approach things like privacy between our virtual and physical existences. We have two diabolically opposing views. We expect to move freely digitally and expect for our privacy to be respected physically. Like this poor lad whose house unknowingly became a Pokemon Go gym.

So, how exactly do we protect ourselves in which these two worlds have become insanely intertwined? No one knows for sure, but the ramifications of this new world will be far reaching and regulation will be forthcoming; although there’s little chance of it being either prescriptive or meaningful.

This new space allows an outlet for physical security to be compromised by using the innocence and anonymity of our virtual space. As humans, most of us cannot comprehend, nor practice, the level of digital security that we do physically. Herein lies the rub. The bad guys know this and yes, this new vulnerability may only be exploited by the worst of the worst of criminals. We have simply enabled it at a pace no one could have predicted.

So, I applaud Nintendo for their groundbreaking advance in this space and can only hope that they use a little of their 25% value increase to try and make its users a little bit safer.


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