Belfast Telegraph

Malware exposure due to the internet of things 'to become a daily reality'

By Sean Duffy and Nicola Anderson

Exposure to malware stemming from the internet of things is set to become a reality in our daily lives, according to a leading tech expert.

Rik Ferguson, Global Vice President Security Research at Trend Micro told the Info Sec Dublin 2016 conference that the ubiquitous use of the internet of things could result in reduced autonomy in personal decision-making for individuals, as well as exposing them to so called "ransomware" attacks.

With everything from TVs, to home heating systems and toothbrushes now wired up to gather data online, Mr Ferguson said that vulnerabilities in the security of particular systems could leave individuals susceptible to attack.

"Much more needs to be done to make sure that these systems are protected. If you have a systems weakness in one area, that could lead to the infection of all the systems which you depend on, which obviously raises concerns about how secure we are from the types of attacks that we know are already taking place."

Mr Ferguson stated that the problem needed to be addressed in the early development stage when products are being developed. " This an issue for manufacturers to address at the early development phase. It doesn't work if you put a product out and then discover security weaknesses after the product is in use. We need to make sure that company's are not retrofitting solutions which could compromise your entire network."

Mr Ferguson emphasised the gravity of what is involved, invoking the notion that an eventual fusion between biotech and online systems which could end up compromising humans ability to act independently.

"The spheres of bio tech and tech are not mutually exclusive. They overlap and as a result, when that technology does eventually blend, you will have people who try to compromise it." He said the creation of malware to infect humans is "now within the realms of possibility."

Mr Ferguson also expects the manufacturing industry to undergo the same upheaval as was seen in the music industry in the early parts on the 21st century.

He noted that the music industry had to completely reconfigure itself because due to downloading in the early part of this century. He noted that the advent of 3d printing makes the same process inevitable for the manufacturing industry in the near future.

There will be in excess of 20bn smart devices connected to the internet by 2020, bringing into sharp focus the necessity to have adequate measures in place to combat cyber threats.

Cloud platforms are the major enablers for disruptive technologies, but Mr Ferguson added that hackers were becoming increasingly aware of "the points of weakness" related to the technology.

"There are going to be many different avenues of attack. You have to think on these avenues when you are thinking about the future."

Irish Independent

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