With the year of the data breach behind us, the new trend in cybersecurity is the growth of the Internet of Things — the devices around you that you use in your daily life that also record data and communicate with other networks via the Internet.
While cybercriminals regularly go after computers and mobile devices to get access to your data and to steal your identity, there are some unexpected targets that could make hacking incidents even more dangerous.
Here are three frightening things cybercriminals can hack.
Although drivers may not think their vehicles are as much of a target for cybercriminals as their electronics, there is the risk that hackers could infiltrate consumers’ cars. The large number of electric components in modern-day cars essentially make them giant computers. From WiFi connections to Bluetooth abilities, a car has plenty of entry points that could allow cybercriminals access to their cars and possibly modify the controls.
Since Internet-enabled features could potentially give cybercriminals a way to hack vehicles, lawmakers are calling for more data security protections in cars. Requiring manufacturers to include security measures with their built-in wireless technology could help consumers defend against hackers who aim to manipulate their cars.
2. Medical Devices
Because advancements in medical devices make them more connected to computers and portable devices, the federal government has begun evaluating the security offered by this type of healthcare technology, Reuters reported. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security looked into the possibility that vulnerabilities in medical devices and other healthcare equipment could be used by cybercriminals.
Although there have not been reports of hackers going after patients directly by exploiting medical devices, the department is still analyzing the problems that could happen if hackers were able to gain control of this technology. For example, one risk is that hackers could gain control of a heart implant and cause it to malfunction within a patient.
With these security hazards, the agency said it will cooperate with medical device manufacturers to improve software data security. The Food and Drug Administration is also working with companies to enhance the safety of medical devices.
3. Electric Grids
With an aging electric infrastructure, the U.S. is vulnerable to cyberattacks against its grid systems, CNNMoney reported. Last year, energy companies reported 79 instances of energy grid hacking, down from 145 in 2013. If cybercriminals were able to disrupt electricity to the grid, the loss of power could cause huge economic losses for consumers and businesses.
Although there was a decrease in the number of hacking incidents, data breaches at power companies were still common. A survey by ThreatTrack Security found 37% of energy firms reported a data breach between April 2013 and 2014. The government is also working with Homeland Security’s Computer Emergency Readiness Team to protect the grid from attacks.
Outside of the Internet of Things, you have to take control of your own data to spot cybercriminals before you get hacked or have your identity stolen. Keep an eye on your credit for signs of new-account fraud (you can get free annual credit reports under federal law) and monitor your credit scores using a paid service or free tools.
More on Identity Theft:
- Identity Theft: What You Need to Know
- 3 Dumb Things You Can Do With Email
- How Can You Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen?