Security

Smart Home Attacks And Data Weaponisation: The New Threat Vectors For 2017 And Beyond

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

Intel Security’s Christopher Young issues some stark security warnings at RSA Conference 2017

Cyber attacks on smart home products and the weaponisation of big data are set to be the new security threat vectors for the years ahead, according to Christopher Young, senior vice president and general manager at Intel Security.

Speaking at RSA Conference 2017, Young highlighted how the growing role big data is playing in our everyday lives has made it a prime target for cyber criminals and that the manipulation of this data could have serious ramifications.

He cited the recent US election as a high-profile example of the power that data and information can hold over the public and warned about the data risks that will likely accompany the growth of autonomous cars.

But that wasn’t Young’s only warning. He also laid out the security threats that both businesses and consumers will face with the rise of the connected smart home, an issue that “we’ve got to pay more attention to as we look forward”.

RSA 2017

Data weaponisation

As we well know, data has quickly grown to play a central role in how we live and work and its importance will only continue to increase in the coming years.

From sports to the domination of mobile and everything in between, the use of big data analytics is vital in areas such as providing insight, engaging with customers and helping both businesses and consumers to make better decisions.

Chris Young @ RSA

But, as Young explained, we are facing an ever-growing threat.

“Data is more now than just 24 hour news cycles or election campaigns. It’s becoming the bedrock of our economy. Every day billions of decisions are made across millions and millions of organisations leveraging big data models,” he said. 

“And because we now rely increasingly on big data analytics to make decisions, we have to pay a lot more attention to the integrity of the small data that goes into those models, because if it’s manipulated it can be turned into a weapon and that weapon can be pointed right back against us.”

The recent US election is a prime example. Stolen and manipulated data was used as propaganda to “assassinate character and try to disrupt our democracy” and ultimately served to impact a decision that will have global ramifications.

Then there’s the issue of autonomous vehicles. Millions are expected to appear on our roads within the next few years and, with each one processing around 4,000GB of information per day, they are going to create an awful lot of data.

Autonomous cars

We already know that the cars themselves can be hacked, but it’s the hacking of data models that provides the real threat: “These data models that we will increasingly rely on to ensure the safe transport of millions of people and items every day. So we’re no longer worried about going after the car but going after the traffic systems themselves through the insertion of false data.”

Young continued: “Now let me be clear I don’t see big data as a problem. Big data is going to usher in many possibilities for all of us as a society. But it’s when the big data itself get manipulated by the insertion of bad data, it’s when that small insertion can become a huge story for all of us.”

This all paints a rather bleak picture of the future, but there’s no doubt that the world needs to prepare itself for “the next threat vector; the weaponsition of information with us as the targets”.

Read on about today’s new threat vectors on page 2…