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Will Hackers Soon Be Able to Commit Murders Over The Internet By Manipulating Pacemakers and the Electronics of Cars?

That's what one cyber security company is predicting. Should we believe it?

Here's the press release. Is this a real threat or is it cooked up to attract attention? We'll let you decide.

IID Says 2013 Cyberthreats are So 2012; Predicts Two Years Ahead

Ubiquitous Internet connections will allow death by device and massive over-the-air theft by 2014 

TACOMA, Wash. – December 18, 2012 – IID (Internet Identity®), a provider of technology and services that help organizations secure their Internet presence, today announced it finds that 2013 cyberthreats are already well anticipated and mundane, but predicts that by 2014 significant new methods of cybercrime will emerge. These new threats include the utilization of Internet connected devices to actually carry out physical crimes, including murders and cybercriminals leveraging mobile device Near Field Communications (NFC) to wreak havoc with banking and e-commerce. IID also expects the industry to combat such threats with new platforms for sharing intelligence across researchers, commercial enterprises and government agencies.

 

“Being bold is predicting the end of the world this week coinciding with the end of the Mayan long-count calendar as some people are. What isn’t bold in cybersecurity is prognosticating the same old same old with more mobile malware, APTs giving cybercriminals backdoor access to their intended victims and even more data breaches of Fortune 500 companies as most industry pundits are,” noted IID president and CTO Rod Rasmussen. “Those threats are well understood, and being addressed today.  The more interesting thing from our perspective is what’s next?  And how will the industry respond?”

 

Murder By Internet Connected Devices

With nearly every device, from healthcare to transportation, being controlled or communicated with in some way via the Internet, IID predicts that criminals will leverage this to carry out murders. Examples include a pacemaker that can be tuned remotely, an Internet-connected car that can have its control systems altered, or an IV drip that can be shut off with a click of a mouse.

 

“With so many devices being Internet connected, it makes murdering people remotely relatively simple, at least from a technical perspective.  That’s horrifying,” continued Rasmussen. “Killings can be carried out with a significantly lower chance of getting caught, much less convicted, and if human history shows us anything, if you can find a new way to kill, it will be eventually be used.”

 

NFC Danger

By 2014, Juniper Research predicts almost 300 million (one in five) smartphones worldwide will be NFC-enabled, and Global NFC transactions will total almost $50 billion. NFC, something mobile companies are heavily marketing, is a set of smartphone standards that enables everything from payments to unlocking of hotel room doors to automatic peer-to-peer information exchange between two devices placed closely together. IID predicts that while the underlying technology in NFC is secure, almost all of the applications that will be written to interface with the technology will be riddled with security holes, and massive losses will ensue.

 

“The amount of banking and point of sale e-commerce apps that are being developed utilizing NFC is astronomical,” said IID Vice President of Threat Intelligence Paul Ferguson. “This is a gold mine for cybercriminals and we have already seen evidence that they are working to leverage these apps to siphon money.”

 

In lock-step with all of these threats, IID predicts a strong response in the form of an intelligence sharing network that will alert participating companies, government institutions and more about the latest cybercrime attacks. Currently, government agencies lack clear guidance about the rules of engagement for sharing, and enterprises are worried about the potential liabilities created by intelligence sharing. IID expects that Congress will enact new cybersecurity legislation that provides safe harbor protections enabling enterprises and government institutions to share intelligence without such fears in the coming months.

 

Other cybersecurity trends IID predicts in 2014 include:

  • A large increase of government sanctioned malware targeting other government institutions around the globe with nation states openly engaging in acts of cyber-espionage and sabotage
  • At least one successful penetration of a major infrastructure component like a power grid that results in billions of dollars in damage
  • An exploit of a significant military assault system like drones that result in real-world consequences
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