From a “transporter accident” on Star Trek to Homeland showing terrorists hacking the vice-president’s pacemaker, the concept of killing someone by hacking into connected technology is not necessarily new. However, the European Police Office believes that “online murder” is going to rise as cyber criminals target victims through the Internet of Things as more and more devices and operations are carried out through the internet.
“The IoE is inevitable,” Europol states in its threat assessment. “We must expect a rapidly growing number of devices to be rendered ‘smart’ and thence to become interconnected. Unfortunately, we feel that it is equally inevitable that many of these devices will leave vulnerabilities via which access to networks can be gained by criminals."
In its threat assessment, Europol referenced a report written back in December 2013 by US security firm IID that stated the world could witness the first “murder via hacked internet-connected device” in 2014. It’s a prediction that conspiracy theories have assumed was the cause of death for Buzzfeed journalist Michael Hastings who died on June 18, 2013 in a high-speed car crash.
(Image Credit: Adam Thomas)
In addition to “online murders” Europol is expecting to see new, and various, forms of blackmailing, extortion, data theft, payment fraud, child abuse, and physical injury.
“The Internet has created a unique ecosystem for the criminal exploitation of vulnerable online entities,” reads the report. “It provides an environment where a perceived level of anonymity implies a lack of consequence and thereby a lack of responsibility.”
While companies such as Intel and Samsung are focusing on ways for various devices to communicate effectively to communicate effectively, and Google acquiring Nest and developing a self-driving car, Europol warns of a rise in cyber-threats as a result. The implementation of these new technologies and uses will create a “wider attack surface and more attack vectors.”