How Hacking Can Kill

Monday, July 09, 2012

Edward Jones

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Wherever you are on the internet, there’s often a virus lurking around the digital corner.

As processor power and bandwidth increases, so do the number of viruses. A hacker will always find a new way of getting your data - and turning it into money.

That’s why Hacker Halted - held in Miami, Florida in October – is boldly circled in the IT security professional’s calendar. And as we found-out at last year’s event, hacking has progressed from threatening our data security to potentially threatening our lives.

Can a computer virus really kill? Apparently yes.

Hacker Halted 2011:  A ‘white hat’ hacker addresses the bewildered audience armed with an automated insulin pump and a PC that could be found in any hospital.

The pump delivers insulin to the patient based on pre-determined programming of the computer software. Guess what happens to the unsuspecting patient when that program is infected by a virus…

This is obviously an extreme case. But, in the USA alone, more than 27 million have fallen victim to identity theft over the last five years, according to the National Crime Prevention Council. That’s 27 million lives affected by hackers.

Hack attack stats

Unfortunately, the threat of hacking is still growing. There were some shocking stats revealed at Hacker Halted 2011. More than two million new malicious websites are detected every month, 100,000 new malware are screened every day, and the average time to fix a security vulnerability on a website is a staggering 110 days.

And it’s not just your PC. Smart phone hacking has become the latest tool for rogue hackers. From spyware that tracks where you go and when to banking trojans that intercept financial transactions. It’s even possible now to activate a virus in a text message.

How do we beat the hackers? Beat them at their own game.

It’s clear that even if we invest in the latest technology, we can’t assume that its security features alone will block all hacking threats. For example, it was revealed at the Black Hat Security Conference in 2011 that attackers can even hack an Apple Macbook via its battery.

This year’s Hacker Halted is arguably the most important in its 14-year history. It feels like it becomes even more relevant each year. The event sees EC-Council present a series of global computer and information security seminars, aimed at raising international awareness and education in IT security.

It will also involve a series of hands-on workshops and training sessions led by some of the world’s leading anti-hacking instructors and trainers. It seems that for every step forward we take with new technology, hackers are already several paces ahead.

So it helps to get into the head of the hacker.

Author Bio: James Lapwood is Head of Communications for Firebrand, a provider of accelerated IT Training for Certifications from a range of vendors including Microsoft, Cisco and Oracle

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Kathleen Jungck The vulnerability of SCADA networks within the healthcare industry is extensive. Due to the length of the regulatory process with the FDA, most of this equipment is out of date compared to other sectors by the time it's released. Many hospitals and health care providers are oblivious to the threat, and in a hacker's mindset, hacking is usually considered a victimless crime - it's only data.

A group at the University of Washington is trying to get the word out about the vulnerability of medical computing devices, but I'm afraid it's going to take more than one death before the FDA or any other regulatory body is going to require appropriate levels security.

In this case, getting into the head of the hacker, and changing the mindset of a completely victimless crime may be a needed part of our defensive strategy.
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