Hackers Seek New, Unique Ways to Steal Information

By Tracey E. Schelmetic November 26, 2012

If you don’t use a computer or a smartphone, you’re at no risk for attack by malicious hackers, right?

Wrong. Just because it doesn’t look like a computer doesn’t mean it is a computer, and the interconnectedness of all devices today means that our worlds are becoming far more computerized than ever before, even if it’s not obvious.



Image via Shutterstock

Imagine the average hacker becoming bored with trying to climb inside CIA or banking networks and suddenly turning to other targets: the electronics handling car engines, brakes and door locks; the routers that form the Internet's backbone; the machines running power plants, rail lines and prison cell doors; and even implantable medical devices such as defibrillators and insulin pumps.

Imagine an organized crime group being able to eliminate police officers, judges or prosecutors by simply being able to hack into those individuals’ cars’ computers and causing the brakes to fail. Scary stuff, huh? It sounds like the basis for a science fiction movie, yet it’s a reality today.

A little close to home, imagine how easy it would be for a rival company to hack into one of your company’s printers. In 2011, two computer scientists from Columbia University demonstrated an easy way to hack into HP printers in such a way that they could view everything that was printed, and then easily view anything on any computer connected to that printer. (HP has fixed that bug.)

But many more remain, and it has been reported that many computers and peripherals in sensitive government agencies have no protection on them past their factory defaults.

The U.S. government is not unaware of the scary potential. In October, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned that the U.S. faced the threat of a "cyber Pearl Harbor" if it failed to adequately protect these systems. His comments echoed a warning CIA Director John Deutsch gave to Congress in 1996, according to a recent article in Scientific American

To help address the problem, computer scientists today are building guardians called “symbiotes” designed to run on embedded computers regardless of the underlying operating systems. In doing so, they may not only help protect the critical infrastructure of nations and corporations, but reveal that warfare against these devices may have been going on unseen for years, researchers say.

While the work has been called “very promising,” it’s likely that somewhere, a malicious hacker is already working on a way to get around them.




Edited by Brooke Neuman

TechZone360 Contributor

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

Compliance: Hope Is Not a Plan

By: Special Guest    8/1/2018

Internal misalignment between compliance and business teams can lead to major problems for organizations seeking to implement new digital communicatio…

Read More

Modern Moms Shaping Influence

By: Maurice Nagle    7/19/2018

Everyone knows Mom knows best. The internet is enabling a new era in sharing, and sparking a more enlightened, communal shopping experience. Mommy blo…

Read More

Why People Don't Update Their Computers

By: Special Guest    7/13/2018

When the WannaCry ransomware attacked companies all over the world in 2017, experts soon realized it was meant to be stopped by regular updating. Even…

Read More

More Intelligence About The New Intelligence

By: Rich Tehrani    7/9/2018

TMC recently announced the launch of three new artificial intelligence events under the banner of The New Intelligence. I recently spoke with TMC's Ex…

Read More

Technology, Innovation, and Compliance: How Businesses Approach the Digital Age

By: Special Guest    6/29/2018

Organizations must align internally to achieve effective innovation. Companies should consider creating cross-functional teams or, at a minimum, incre…

Read More