Cyber security expert: The vulnerability lies in our critical infrastructure

The vulnerability lies in our critical infrastructure

Cyber crime has an impact of more than $600 billion per year according to CeBIT Australia 2017 keynote speaker and cyber security expert Eugene Kaspersky.

The CEO of Kaspersky Lab, an IT Security company, told the large crowd of industry professionals that his company had a collection of more than 470 million unique malicious data files developed to attack Microsoft systems alone.

“We have a zoo we’ve collected of malicious files for the last 25 years,” Kaspersky says.

Despite attacks on Microsoft operating systems far outweighing any other operating system, he says Mac OS and any operating system on our PCs and smart devices shouldn’t have a false sense of security - these are just as vulnerable.

“The population of smart devices is bigger than the population of smart humans,” he says.

But while personal PCs and handheld devices getting hacked might seem like the end of the world to us as individuals, there’s a far greater risk. Kaspersky believes the worst case scenario is sabotage attacks on critical infrastructure.

“Power is the most critical,” Kaspersky tells the crowd. And it’s happened before - in 2003 parts of the US and Canadian east coast were sent offline as the power grid’s Unix systems were infected with the malicious Blaster Worm. Similarly in 2015 and 2016, Ukraine’s grids came under a full-blown cyber attack - the power was switched off and it was impossible to restart the system until a manual override was initiated.

Following power, Kaspersky says transportation could be the next big target. Pointing out that smart cars are essentially simulators connected to the internet that can be remotely controlled if compromised. He says a report released by Wikileaks has identified car hacking as technically possible, pointing out a car’s handbrake is no longer a manual override you can hear working to secure the car in a break position - it’s a simple button that tells a computer to put the handbrake on.

The cyber security expert pointed out that anything and everything is vulnerable because, by design, everything is connected to a public network. 

“We’re living in a very new world. And it’s good. But it’s vulnerable,” says Kaspersky.

But, Kaspersky says he has a plan on how to redesign technology to plug the holes of vulnerability. “We need to work out how to redesign the world in a better way,” he says.

Eugene Kaspersky

His plan outlines working to protect everything in stages - in the image above he’s suggesting to work across multiple levels starting with the most important areas first, such as personal smart devices, connected cars and power grids, then down to the lower levels of concerns such as private internet connections, ISPs and mobile internet networks.

Kaspersky finished his keynote with humour. “We’re living in a very dangerous world. The good news is Australians have been doing that for a long while,” he says referencing our sometimes terrifying wildlife.

To discover more about our threat landscape download our ebook Cautionary Tales: Cyber security and the Internet of Things. 

Cautionary tales: Cyber security and the Internet of Things