Hackers will be in the news, one way or another, for a long time. Most of the time, their work will be filed under ‘serious news’. Sometimes, though, there is a sense of humour at work. This is normally the case when someone is trying to prove a point, expose a weakness or help a company strengthen its defences.
Among the hackers with a sense of humour is one Simon Weckert who decided to hack Google Maps, right outside their Berlin office. He collected a wheelbarrow load of second hand smartphones and turned on Google Maps on all of them. This mass of stationary signals sent a message to Maps that there was a traffic problem and Maps re-routed traffic round the problem.
That is how Maps works and Google will learn from this incident – it says.
The vast majority of hackers do not have a sense of humour, at least not a nice one. The next few years will prove this point as cyberattacks (and their sophistication) increases and the funding for hackers escalates.
Cyber war is coming, if it is not already here.
The sophistication of attacks will be driven by better and more effective weapons. Chief amongst these will be AI, which already has a significant role. Juniper Research predicts that AI spending among telecoms operators will increase from $3 billion this year to $15 billion in 2024. The study says that this spend will be spread across fraud management and network management and optimisation, so it is difficult to pin down the exact figure for fraud processes but it will be significant.
The problem, of course, is that operators may well be deploying AI to prevent fraud but the hackers are also deploying AI to initiate more effective attacks.
The feedback from various studies and surveys of CTOs, CIOs and security experts boils the perceived risks down to five (although the caveat is that the list could have easily reached the hundreds).
Top of the list is 5G and not just because of the Huawei issue.
Paul Lipman, CEO of BullGuard says “because 5G is a switch to mostly all-software networks, and upgrades will be like the current periodic upgrades to your smartphone, the cyber vulnerabilities of software poses potentially enormous security risks.”
In second place is not a leading technology – it is good old fashioned phishing, and CTO and founder of Illumio, PJ Kimer has this advice:
“whether it’s the child of an executive, an executive assistant, or even someone with administrative privileges, it only takes one wrong click for them to implant malware on their parent’s phone, opening up the back door for a bad actor to get into the company network.”
Curiosity, it seems, does kill the cat.
Experts also point to to AI and machine learning as potentially vulnerable, since they need training – which means that, like extremists, AI can be groomed and radicalised. One piece of advice is to ‘teach’ AI and machine learning processes away from the environment in which they will go live.
Other areas top of executives’ worry list will not surprise you – cloud and privacy laws feature large. Other sources cite increased political use of hackers and interference in political processes.
The answer is to be vigilant, keep up to date, collaborate and increase the budget. All of which is easier said than done.
The other thing to hope for is that the number of hackers with a sense of humour continues to increase and at least adds a chuckle to the otherwise serious issue of security.