Cyber risks: looking at 2016 and beyond
Identifying cyber risks and understanding cyber security is an important area of focus for insurers because it is always evolving. While the security breaches, data thefts and hackings of major corporations and governments have made headlines over the last few years, there are increased risks for individuals and small businesses. Looking ahead into 2016 and beyond, we see new products and technologies that will introduce new cyber risks.
Automobiles today are already connected into our digital lives. Every day drivers connect their mobile phone or tablet to their cars via Blue Tooth to use apps for GPS navigation, traffic analysis, hands-free communication and syncing media. Newer car models now have their own proprietary internet connection that is fully integrated with the car’s internal IT system. In addition to the personal data from our mobile phones, cars also have USB ports, Bluetooth connections, telematics systems and many other connected elements.
As connected cars become increasingly sophisticated computers, they will be rich sources of data about their owners. This means that your automobile will be another target for cyber criminals. According to McAfee Labs 2016 Threats Prediction connected automobiles have more than 12 different methods of entry, making good cyber security for automobiles essential.
Wearable devices have had some success in 2015 with products like smart watches, connected glasses and personal fitness trackers. Since many of these devices are designed to sync with your smart phone, they are also full of data. Currently wearable devices lack the security features of computers and smartphones, making them vulnerable to attack and an ideal point-of-entry for cyber criminals.
In the worst case scenario, accessing your wearable device might allow cyber criminals entry into other connected devices like your phone, laptop or car. Even without accessing other devices, your smart watch may contain enough personal data to make you an easier target for a spear phishing attack.
The Internet of Things
Just as consumers today expect their cars, watches and glasses to be connected devices, the same will be true of other consumer products. It is reasonable to imagine a smart home in the not too distant future, where nearly everything is interconnected, from household appliances and utilities to entertainment systems and locks.
A connected household will introduce many different points of access and a home network will only be as secure as its most vulnerable device. The risk of a hacker gaining entry through one device and then being able to connect to different devices throughout the network is a serious risk.
All of these technologies and new products will make our lives easier, but it is important to remember that these opportunities will also come with potential cyber risks.