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Essay: The Expansion of Technology has Improved Security

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  • Published: 24 January 2023*
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Security is a very important part of our lives and we use it in some way every single day. It helps immensely to protect us against criminals, terrorists, and even invisible viruses on a computer! Humans will most likely never be able to stay 100% safe, but technology can make that number as close to perfect as possible. “There is no silver bullet that will solve the challenges we face, but with the employment of these promising ideas and technologies, we can improve security and make the process less painful” (Benda). Improvements to current security can be attributed to recent technological advancements. The most important security elements that come from technology today are: fingerprint scanners, remote monitoring, home security systems, cell-phone tracking, and iris/facial recognition.

Fingerprint analysis has long been used to convict criminals, thereby making neighborhoods safer by incarcerating those who are dangerous to society. Recent advancements in technology have lead to the development of the fingerprint scanner. The fingerprint scanner uses a light sensitive microchip that you place your finger on. The computer creates, then analyzes a digital image and creates a code out of it that cannot be replicated by anyone else. Criminal fingerprint analysis was first used in 1892 by a man named Eduardo Alvarez in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was used to identify a woman who murdered her sons and tried to blame it on someone else.  In this case, fingerprints were used to identify a criminal but they can be used for much more. They can help to identify missing people and also to lock personal items as a passcode. They can be used as a password that you can’t forget, lose, or get stolen like a numeric password. The fingerprint scanner is a great invention because most people have fingers and fingerprints are unable to be changed. No two fingerprints have ever been found alike in the history of human civilization which consists of over 100 billion people. Technology is completely responsible for this great invention which continues to catch criminals and secure personal items.

Another improvement to security that has evolved from technology is remote monitoring. Remote monitoring is a way of watching or listening to something to keep track of it. An example of a remote monitor could be a baby monitor or a security camera at a store. The first baby monitor was “conceived” in 1937 by Eugene F. Mcdonald Jr. What possessed him to create this item? In 1932, the 20-month old son of Charles Lindbergh was kidnapped right out of their home in the middle of the night. McDonald knew there had to be a resolution so he asked his engineers to create a system he could take to the market. Isamu Noguchi, a Japanese American sculptor and designer, then created a machine that he called the ‘Radio Nurse.’ The Radio Nurse had some drawbacks, though, as it picked up other radio signals at times (Perra).  In 1942 the first security system was used in Germany to monitor the launch of V-2 rockets. This technology was later brought to America for the monitoring of nuclear missile testing (Delgado). Remote monitors like the baby monitor and security cameras are evident improvements of security that came from the advancements in technology. They are responsible for the simplification of jobs and a way to make sure your infant is safe in the midst of night.

Another piece of evidence that security has grown with technology is the home security system. The home security system was invented in 1966 by an african-american woman named Marie Van Brittan Brown. The system enabled homeowners to view who was at their door and hear the visitor’s voice with cameras and a microphone. Brown received an award for her invention at the National Science Committee. The FBI reported that in 2014, over 1.4 million houses were burglarized. On average, burglars take upwards of $2,000 per break-in (FBI). Technology has greatly improved security systems. Modern security systems allow you to make sure that every window is locked, doors are closed, keys are in the house, etc. The police can even be called if a correct passcode is not entered into the system. These developments to security systems enhance the safety to the homeowner; another example of technology improving security.

The next aspect of security is cellular phone tracking. Cellular phone tracking is the ascertaining of the position or location of a mobile phone, whether stationary or moving. This is possible because a powered mobile phone connects to the nearest cell-phone tower. More advanced systems can process how far away the phone is from the base station and give a more accurate description of where it is located. Better services can have the location tracking down to less than 50 meters in urban areas which are more densely populated. There are many cases of police using cell-phone tracking to find criminals but the best one is the case of Hussain Osman. On July 21, 2005 there were multiple failed suicide bombings in London. One man, Osman, escaped and was hiding but was later found hiding in his brother’s house in Rome. His discovery was due to cell-phone tracking because Italian police tapped a cell-phone that they found and believed to be his. Cell-phone tracking can be credited to the advancement in technology. We can use satellites and cell towers to determine positions of cell-phones in order to find criminals like Osman.

The final piece of security is Iris/Facial Recognition. Iris recognition is an automated method of biometric identification that uses mathematical pattern-recognition techniques on video images of one or both of the irises of an individual’s eyes, whose complex patterns are unique, stable, and can be seen from some distance (IEEE). Iris scanners have many advantages and a few disadvantages. One advantage is that the iris is an internal organ that is protected against damage, unlike fingerprints that can be destroyed with enough courage. One drawback to using iris scanners is that sometimes a high definition photo can be used instead of a real face to fool the scanner. They are also much more expensive than average security systems which could be a dealbreaker depending on your requirements. They are constantly being worked on and improved so who knows where technological advancements will lead us. Facial recognition is very similar to iris recognition because the computer recognizes the shape of the iris/face and picks up smaller details on both. Facial recognition is used mostly in security systems but more recently used as passwords to cell phones. Most facial recognition systems use traditional methods of identification like identifying positions of eyes, nose, ears, mouth etc. Another method used is skin texture analysis which turns the unique lines, patterns, and spots apparent in a person’s skin into a mathematical equation.

There are a few reasons as to why some people can argue that technology has decreased our personal security. One reason is that we are never truly certain who is watching us. There are some conspiracies about how the NSA (National Security Agency) could be gaining access to our cell phones, computer screens, phone records, etc. The NSA really can gain access to your records but all for good reasons. “National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander testified Tuesday [June 18, 2013]… that phone and Internet surveillance programs made public by former defense contractor Edward Snowden prevented approximately 50 terrorist plots since 2001” (Nelson). These records evidently display that the NSA has a justified reason to tap cell phones because by accessing our phones, they are terminating unlawful plots and keeping us safer.

In conclusion, the advancement of technology has accounted for most, if not all of the benefits we have with security today. It’s impossible to stay completely safe but technology can make staying safe much easier. Fingerprint scanning can be used to identify criminals, identify missing people, or to lock personal items as a passcode. Remote monitoring like baby monitors or security cameras can be used to watch your house while you’re away, make sure your baby is okay in the night, or catch a glimpse of a criminal. Home security systems can potentially save your life. If there’s a break-in, it can sound an alarm and even call 9-1-1 for you. Cell-phone tracking can be used to locate calls being made by criminals or even just let your parents know where you are at any time. Last but not least, iris and facial recognition can be used as a passcode to lock items or confidential information. These many aspects of security can be credited to the advancements in technology. Without it, we would have no security and possibly be unsafe and at risk.

Originally published 15.10.2019

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