More data has been generated in the past two years than in the entire history of mankind.
While for many, there are reasons to celebrate this increasingly connected world, others express growing concern about the risks associated with all that data, an ideal target for cyber crime. Cyber security was one of the hottest topic at the recent CyberTech conference in Tel Aviv.
“Everything is connected to the internet now,” said Yoav Leitersdorf, managing partner at venture capital firm YL Ventures. “I think that in 2015, about 20 percent of cars in the US were shipped connected which means they had a sim card or some other form of connectivity. When you have so many devices connected to the internet, you must secure them.”
Last year, hackers in the US managed to remotely access a Jeep Cherokee SUV through its on-board computer, taking control of its steering, transmission and brakes. Researchers executed a similar hack into the Tesla Model S.
“Cyber security has basically escalated from being no priority, maybe a year ago, then through the Jeep hack to the Tesla hack, to become top three priority right now,” said Yoav Leitersdorf.
As carmakers race to make their vehicles behave more and more like smartphones, they will also have to deal with the security risks that go with connecting to the Internet. An increasingly autonomous car also means an increasingly vulnerable vehicle.
“Modern cars are being more and more connected to the cloud and hence there is a growing threat, a cyber threat, of anyone trying to hack into cars,” said Asaf Atzmon, vice-president of business development at automotive cyber security company TowerSec. “Someone could create a large-scale attack over the internet to a large number of vehicles and, by penetrating through interfaces into some critical system, actually get into the most safety critical systems of the car and actually take actions from affecting the steering of the car, affecting brakes, obviously affecting things that at the extreme end could endanger people’s life.”
The growing trend to use internet-connected household appliances also puts users at greater risk – especially from data theft. According to Yossi Atias, the founder of Dojo Labsan, an Israeli startup that pledges to secure the connected smart home, there are solutions.
“The system knows how to automatically analyse the behaviour of the devices and when it identifies some anomaly in this behaviour, it alerts the user but also blocks this activity,” he explained.
The founder of one of the world’s most prominent anti-virus companies, Eugene Kaspersky, summed it up when he said: You call it internet of things. I call it internet of threats..
Identity theft is the most common type of cyber crime: “Most people will find themselves suddenly with any device that they know from their daily life connected to the network and on the one hand it makes their life more simple, convenient, etc, on the other hand, if it’s not properly protected, that can create quite a lot of issues, anything from basic usage of the device all the way to more severe cyber-crime related to stuff like identity theft,” said Yossi Atias.
Breaches originating from cloud-connected devices jumped by 152 percent last year. Cyber crime is estimated to cost the global economy hundreds of billions of euros a year. In a sign that companies are taking security more seriously, average investment into security budgets rose by one quarter in 2015.