The next time you hear an IT expert talking about the wonders of Artificial Intelligence, Robots and Digital Solutions, just recall that criminals and pranksters can bring big companies, banks and governments to their knees with a €10 piece of software that is available from the dark web!
Last year, 7 banks in the UK had their networks attacked by such software and many had to close down their internet systems (see FT and UK Guardian headlines 26.4.2018). Arrests were made but only after the efforts of dozens of police and other officials in several countries. Just a handful of troublemakers were arrested.
The 2 largest Finnish banks (Nordea and OP Banking Group) have closed down their networks around 10 ten times every year for the past 3 years. These banks never admit to cyber-attacks, but what else could it be? Were there poorly written software, legacy hardware or cyber-attacks – all 3 are non-excusable…
The security companies try their best to keep us safe. They do a great job in impossible conditions but they can only be effective after the first cyber-attacks, that always occur without warning. This security is not anywhere near perfect and it gives us a false sense of security because when the attacks happen critical systems will be or may be closed down with resulting damage, injuries or death.
We know that global credit card fraud and bank heists, where money is criminally transferred, are much bigger than ever before. The sums stolen are huge when compared to the amounts stolen in old-fashioned bank robberies. Criminals today are risk-adverse and much richer than before!
This new wealth enables them to bankroll even more clever hackers to help them with the next dip in to the banks’ pockets or to hold a company or government to ransom for huge sums of money…
… and Bitcoin is their agent in this malfeasance and yet it is allowed to continue its operations.
In addition to small gangs of IT criminals, we now have rogue hackers that are backed or simply ignored by their respective governments. Russian, Chinese and North Korean hackers are well documented by the security forces and in the media. These latter state sponsored spooks are even more dangerous because they threaten our infrastructure for political reasons, not just money.
Infrastructure cannot be protected from these people, even though our officials and security companies do their best. The more that we place on vulnerable networks, the more we place ourselves at risk. Just think of a self-driving car being controlled by a hacker to drive through crowds. How do you stop it? AI and robots – how about an armed robot on the rampage in a city or school? How about a hacker who, from the safety of his hide-out, turns off lighting and safety equipment in the network and then sets off a fire-bomb in a long tunnel at rush hour?