New Report Shows Hacks Will Kill People Within 10 Years – Or It May Have Already Happened
When you think about the worst case scenario with hacking, you probably think of losing all your files or buying a new computer.
But a new study shows there’s a worse worst case scenario: hacking can kill you.
A new study shows that hacking will kill someone within 10 years – and that it may have already happened.
As you may have guessed, that study references the rise of smart technology and smart devices. Hackers don’t just target phones and computers anymore. They target microwaves, cars, power grids, thermostats, and even nuclear enrichment programs.
Did American and Israeli Hackers Kill Iranians from Across the World?
In any case, Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer for F-Secure, has been making headlines this past week after he revealed the information in a statement to Business Insider:
“It could have happened already, but we don’t know. Stuxnet could already have killed people.”
Stuxnet is the infamous computer worm that targeted nuclear facilities in Iran. American and Israeli intelligence services (allegedly) created the worm, launched it into Iranian servers, and the worm caused certain parts of the facility to overheat, creating a catastrophe that set Iran’s nuclear program back years.
“We don’t know if it killed people, it’s possible because it caused centrifuges which are filled with uranium gas to break down in the middle of their spinning cycle, so if there are scientists in the room they could’ve died … I guess the Iranians would have told the world if Americans had killed people with the hack.”
Business Insider describes Hyponnen as a highly regarded security expert who has been working in the field since the 1990s. He’s made plenty of headlines over the years – including for the one time he tracked down the people who created the world’s first virus.
Stuxnet Isn’t the First Virus that Could Have Killed People
Stuxnet had the potential to be the world’s most devastating virus. I mean, anytime you have a piece of rogue software in a nuclear facility, it has the potential to cause some serious destruction in the world.
Thankfully, Stuxnet was (allegedly) made by Americans and Israelis who (presumably) don’t want to destroy the world. It wasn’t made by ISIS.
However, Stuxnet isn’t the only virus that could have killed someone.
In December of 2015, the Ukrainian power grid was taken offline by a devastating hack. Wired described the hack as “unprecedented”.
As you may know, Ukraine isn’t all that warm in December. The grid was only down for 1 to 6 hours. However, if the grid had stayed down for longer, it could have easily resulted in a death.
As smart power grids become more common, and state-sponsored cyberwarfare is officially a part of combat, opportunities like this will become more common.
Fortunately, Ordinary Hackers Won’t Try to Kill You
Ultimately, the important thing to note is that these hackers are targeting major infrastructure and facilities: they’re not targeting individual people.
Most average people won’t need to worry about hackers trying to kill them.
However, it’s not unreasonable to think that high-profile individuals could come under attack. Hackers might crank up a politician’s smart thermostat in the middle of the night, for example. Think of the damage that could occur if ISIS had a good hacker on their team.
But as Hyponnen says, hackers don’t really want to kill people:
“Killing people is a bad idea. It doesn’t make money. Hackers generally want to get a benefit for their hacks.”
Nevertheless, Stuxnet and the Ukrainian power grid attacks show that hackers can legitimately kill people from their computers halfway around the world. As smart technology becomes more common, so too will our exposure to death from that technology.