First ‘Online Murder’ Could Happen By The End Of The Year

The Internet of Things could turn out to be a killer, Europol report warns

Far from helping us stay connected to the world around us, the Internet of Things (IoT) could in fact be hacked and used against us in a variety of possibly murderous ways, according a threat report from European policing agency Europol.

“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, data theft, physical injury and possible death,” the report states.

Ransom, gun, laptop, crime © Tatiana Popova, Shutterstock 2014Under threat

The report cites previous findings from US security firm IID predicting that the first murder via a “hacked internet-connected device” could happen by the end of 2014, and even suggested a variety of ways in which this could happen.

“The once optimistic concept of the ‘Internet of Things,’ where virtually everything electronic is conveniently connected to the internet will reveal its dark side,” the company stated.

“Malicious hackers will have the power to provoke chaos inside your home, burning your house down by hacking your oven to flood your house with gas and ignite it, or remotely turning off your security system to allow burglars inside.”

Last year, former US Vice-President Dick Cheney revealed that the wireless receptor in his pacemaker device had been disabled because of concerns that outsiders could hack the network and provoke a heart attack.

Coincidentally, pacemakers were just one mode of IoT attack suggested by technology expert Barnaby Jack, who also hacked into cash machines to make them spew money, and exploited a flaw in an insulin pump. However, Jack died last year shortly before he was due to demonstrate how a pacemaker could be hacked.

“The IoE [Internet of Everything] represents a whole new attack vector that we believe criminals will already be looking for ways to exploit,” the Europol report adds.

“The IoE is inevitable. 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.”

Many major technology firms are getting involved in the IoT as the world gets more and more connected, although security does remain a big concern. According to recent research from Cisco, the number of Internet-connected devices will rise to around 50 billion by 2020, a huge increase from the 13 billion in 2013.

What do you know about the Internet of Things? Take our quiz!