Europol frets over cyber-murder

Was it Miss Scarlett in the Dining Room with a Candle Stick? Was it Colonel Mustard in the Study with a Rope? Or was it Professor Plum in the Library with the Internet?

EU law enforcement outfit Europol, in its Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (iOCTA) report, predicts that the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) – where internet enabled physical devices such as heart monitoring implants, self-driving cars, home surveillance systems, smart thermostat systems, and fridges that can offer recipes based on what is in them at the time – will create new attack vectors for serious crime,

With more objects being connected to the Internet and the creation of new types of critical infrastructure, we can expect to see (more) targeted attacks on existing and emerging infrastructures, including new forms of blackmailing and extortion schemes (e.g. ransomware for smart cars or smart homes), data theft, physical injury and possible death, and new types of botnets.

Interestingly, the page referenced by Europol next to ‘possible death’ is titled ‘IID finds murder by Internet, NFC exploits emerge as genuine cybersecurity threats in 2013’, which states that,

By the end of 2014… we will witness the first ever public case of murder via hacked Internet-connected device.

As evidence for this, the IID report cites the case of Vice President Dick Cheney undergoing surgery to turn off the wireless function on his pacemaker in case it got hacked, and the suspicious death of controversial journalist Michael Hastings, where former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism, Richard Clarke told The Huffington Post that what was known about the fatal single-vehicle crash was ‘consistent with a car cyber attack’.

There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers know how to remotely seize control of a car… What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it’s relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn’t want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn’t want the brakes on, to launch an air bag. You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it’s not that hard… So if there were a cyber attack on the car — and I’m not saying there was, I think whoever did it would probably get away with it.

As part of its predictions for 2015, IID concludes that

Everything is Connected, Everything Is Vulnerable – The once optimistic concept of the “Internet of Things,” where virtually everything electronic is conveniently connected to the Internet, will reveal its dark side. Malicious hackers will have the power to provoke chaos inside your home, burning your house down by hacking your oven to flood your house with gas and ignite it, or remotely turning off your security system to allow burglars inside.

So be afraid! Be very afraid!

Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

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