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Experts predict Homeland-style hacking on the horizon

19 Dec 2012
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A new report from security firm Internet Identity (IID) says that by 2014 cyber-criminals will be able to cause physical harm by hacking into internet-connected devices - taking a cue from the terrorists in TV drama Homeland.

IID says that pacemakers, IV drips, and internet-connected cars could soon be hacked to cause physical harm. The security firm also predicted that near-field Communication (NFC) software will be a prime target for hackers within two years.

The firm's report comes from IID's observations and research into emerging technology trends. According to the report, the world is only a couple of years away from major shifts in cyber attacks.

According to IID vice president of threat intelligence, Paul Ferguson, certain medical devices won't even have to be internet-connected to cause irreparable harm through hacking.

In [some cases] there is not necessarily an internet-connection, per se, but rather potential life-threatening vulnerabilities which can be induced by proximity wireless signals and data," Ferguson told V3.

"There have already been some proof-of-concept hacks on embedded defibrillators, pacemakers, and insulin pumps. In these cases, there needs to be a better QA and security testing regime that is done in the medical device industry."

NFC hacks also look to wreak havoc in 2014. Ferguson says the NFC issues will be caused by faulty NFC software options.

"The security issues surrounding NFC are not so much NFC itself, but rather the poor quality of apps which interface with and leverage the NFC firmware," continued Ferguson.

"We have already seen, most of the first and second-generation apps are chocked full of security vulnerabilities, even without NFC capabilities."

The forecasts for NFC technology come following reports that one in five smartphones will offer NFC by 2014. NFC technology is currently found in smartphones like the LG-built Nexus 4.

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James Dohnert

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club,, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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