Last week, Europol, the European Union’s joint police force, released a report outlining future dangers arising from cybercrime. Among their worries: Death from the Internet, 2014.
Europol’s concerns, which included the growing appeal of cybercrime in countries hit hard by austerity measures, briefly mentioned a report issued by a U.S. cybersecurity company called IID last year. In the report, IID predicted that the first death-by-Internet-of-Things would occur by the end of 2014. IID cited former vice president Dick Cheney turning off his pacemaker for fear of remote tampering, conspiracies surrounding the sudden death of journalist Michael Hastings, and an FDA warning about Internet-connected medical devices as reason for their fears.
That kind of prediction might sound highly alarmist, but it’s also worth considering that the Internet of Things does open up a new world of vulnerabilities. Europol writes:
“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.”
That said, it’s not like your Fitbit is going to leap off your wrist and strangle you to death any time soon. But a person’s medical information is a highly valued commodity on the black market. Earlier this year, SANS, another cybersecurity company, issued a report showing that a “medical identity” is worth thousands of dollars compared to mere credit card information, valued at pennies. While one version of “Internet murder” might be cybercriminals holding a pacemaker’s functionality hostage, another could be a stolen or switched medical identity–in which case a person could receive the wrong kind of care at the hospital when records are accessed online.
Cybercriminals also tend to stick to trusty social engineering schemes–run of the mill email phishing scams and the rest. Developing better security hygiene is probably a worthy strategy when we begin downloading Apple HealthKits onto our smart watches.
[h/t the Stack]