Murder by smartphone, bankruptcy via NFC or an automated military attack via malware are just some of the cyberthreats people should be on the alert for by 2014.
While many organizations are producing their reviews of the year and drafting pieces about what to expect in the year ahead, internet security company IID is looking further ahead to the types of cyberthreats that could become commonplace by 2014. It believes that current forms of cyber-attack are well understood, anticipated and the countermeasures are in place to deal with them, but as new forms of technology become more popular in society over the coming years, the types of cyberthreat will change and evolve accordingly.
Perhaps the most alarming of the company's predictions is that as connected mobile devices continue to grow in popularity, so does the likelihood that they could be used to carry out physical crimes such as disrupting a remotely operated pacemaker or hacking an internet-connected car. "With so many devices being Internet connected, it makes murdering people remotely relatively simple, at least from a technical perspective. That's horrifying," says IID president and CTO Rod 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."
IID also points towards the emerging market for Near Field Communication-enabled devices and the use of the technology as a substitute for traditional credit card, debit card and cash transactions as well as a replacement for everything from a transit pass to a hotel door key. "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."
Other predictions include at least one successful penetration of a major infrastructure component like a power grid that results in billions of dollars in damage; and an exploit of a significant military assault system like drones that result in real-world consequences.
According to Rasmussen, the logic behind IID's quite disturbing predictions is being bold, as it's the key to understanding what could be the next threat and, more importantly, how to deal with it. "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. 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?"