In 2011 Be On The Lookout For Traitorware

If there’s any justice in this world then “traitorware” will become the phrase of 2011. It describes any technology, be it hardware or software, that betrays its users. Remember the Sony rootkit fiasco from a few years back? You pop a CD into your computer expecting to listen to some rubbish band, and then you’ve got a nice rootkit on your system, sorta like a bonus feature of the album. “INCLUDES THE HIT SINGLE ‘BABY YOU FINE’ ALONG WITH MALICIOUS SOFTWARE THAT YOU COULDN’T UNINSTALL IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDED ON IT!” You’d need a pretty big sticker to fit that, though.

What are other forms of traitorware, theoretically at least?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, your friend and mine, warns of an Apple patent where“your iPhone may record your voice, take a picture of your location, record your heartbeat, and send that information back to the mothership.” That sounds like fun.

Or perhaps there’s the printer that embeds some sort of unique identifier into every sheet of paper, so if you print something along the lines of “airport security is an oxymoron,” then hand it out in Union Square Big Sis could have no problem tracking you down. Yay!

What about something less “big brother/Drudge headline”-y? How about a camera that embeds GPS coordinates with every photo? Say you bought a new car, and take a photo to show it off on Facebook? Upload that photo and now everyone knows exactly where you live. All you need to do is then tweet “going on vacation, will be in key west for 2 weeks!” for an evildoer to know that A) you’re out of town and B) you live at X-degrees north latitude and Y-degrees west longitude.

Traitorware, you’ve done it again.

I guess the point of this, besides helping you kill two minutes of your day (my primary goal, of course) is to keep you vigilant. Maybe you want to disable the GPS embed when taking photos of your “cool new apartment,” or maybe you don’t want to advertise for the whole world to see that you’re going to be out of town, leaving your property completely unguarded.