Let’s look at these technology trends:
- Cloud delivery
- Self-driving cars, planes & ships
- Military, industrial & personal drones
- Medical wearables
- Personal & professional robots
- Digital home automation
- Networked devices via the Internet-of-Things (IOT)
- Location-based services
- Automated reasoning Recommended by Forbes
- Digitally-managed digital infrastructures
- Digitally-managed physical infrastructures
- Robotic surgery
- Augmented reality
- 3D printing
If I were a cyber criminal, I’d be giddy. While ransomware is a rising threat, it’s child’s play compared to what’s coming. Hollywood screenwriters are overwhelmed with possibilities. Novelists are exhausted with plots. Social media is already describing scenarios of digital death, doom and destruction. So what is the state of risk that the industry is creating? The cumulative effect is positively frightening.
There are significant profiles of each of the above trends. Hacking implanted medical devices like pacemakers and insulin pumps have been analyzed. Johnson and Johnson recently warned its customers about the risks around their insulin pumps. According to Jim Finkle reporting in Reuters this past October:
“Johnson & Johnson is telling patients that it has learned of a security vulnerability in one of its insulin pumps that a hacker could exploit to overdose diabetic patients with insulin, though it describes the risk as low.”
I could cite similar risks in each of the above 15 areas. I could easily increase the number of targets and risks. You can imagine countless threat/risk scenarios. We all can. Some of them are just annoying but many are disastrous.
We can be confident that the number, nature and severity of cybercrimes will dramatically increase. We can also be confident that criminal creativity will boggle our minds and that we will look at simple credit card number theft as Cybercrime 101. We will see the rise of digital organized crime and the need for as many digital cops as there are cops on the street. We will see countries increase their digital military budgets while reducing their budgets for tanks and fighter aircraft: dueling intelligent machines will fight wars. If you think all this is science fiction, focus on the above list of 15 areas and the digital science around all this – and then check your insulin pump, your pacemaker, your home HVAC system, your car, your surgeon and, of course, your credit cards and passwords. The number of local, regional and global cyber detectives will explode – as will cybercrime budgets. The legal system will play continuous catch-up to deal with what cybercriminals do.
Everyone is now taking Cybercrime 101. The good guys will learn about risks and risk mitigation. But the bad guys will learn about vulnerabilities, tools and methods. It’s like sending the world to a gun safety course and expecting everyone to only learn about gun safety and promise to never use guns to do anything wrong. A digital crime wave is coming and it’s coming fast. Brace yourselves. Watch your grids. But also watch the companies most vulnerable to the digital crime wave and the companies that respond to digital crimes. They will have to be smarter and faster than the cybercriminals. Are they up to the task? Will the government under- or over-regulate? Will insurance companies come to the rescue? Will Internet providers cleanse their pipes? Will the FBI help? Will the military play a role? Buckle up.