Watched this video this morning and it reminded me of a time when I went to visit a relative in the hospital. I noticed the hallway had a number of small antennas sticking out of the ceiling every few feet. I figured “Hey that’s some pretty extreme wi-fi coverage!” A few minutes later an automated medicine cabinet came rolling down the hallway. It stopped at every room and dispensed meds to the patients. If you stood in front of it, it would wait for you to move before continuing. And this was probably over 5 years ago! So yes the age of automation is clearly underway.
So this post may not be very security focused, but it will apply to us just as much as it applies to the nurse or pharmacy tech that was replaced by that robot. As costs go down to utilize automated bots (both software and hardware) so does the need for humans in those positions. The video covers it well, so take the 15 minutes to watch. In IT we are seeing this happen on a regular basis, hell some of us probably wrote some nifty scheduled tasks to free us up from doing all those repetitive sys admin jobs. We may have even written someone out of a job by automating the management of users. And we certainly should because that frees us up for concentrating on more long term goals, upgrade plans, new hardening techniques… etc. Heck, back in the day, it would take us weeks to bring a new server online, fully patched, hardened and tested. Now I can log into AWS or Azure and spin entire remote AD environment up in a couple hours (depending on specs). That includes a site-to-site VPN with the virtual network I just setup as well. All that could even be automated as all of it can be done through Powershell. As for testing the systems, well that is also being automated more and more. Netflix employs their Chaos Monkey to bring systems down during business hours so that they can make sure their apps continue running if such a thing happens when no one is around to fix.
So the days of clicking “Next.. Next.. Next… Finish” are over. If you are not picking up a scripting language to help with your job or learning to make LEDs blink on the breadboard, you may become obsolete. If you have kids, it would be wise to push them towards the math and sciences. Get them Lego Mindstorm sets! Show them Codecademy! Bring them to a maker fair and let them see the cool things done with 3D printers, laser-cutters, and robots! We once taught a bunch of kids how to pick locks, don’t worry we told their parents that locks don’t work anyway.
So the bots are coming, you could either be the one creating them or the one being replaced by them. Either way, the years to come will be interesting!