Artificial intelligence, quantum computing, 5G and the rise of the Internet of Things are just some of the emerging technologies that could aid cybercriminals in ways that could make them more dangerous than ever – and law enforcement must innovate quickly in order to help keep citizens safe, a new report has warned.
Published by Europol, the ‘Do criminals dream of electric sheep: how technology shapes the future of crime and law enforcement‘ report – the title of which references the work of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick – explores the consequences that emerging technology could have for cybercrime.
It’s also suggested that law enforcement itself could take advantage of some of the emerging technologies to help in the fight against cybercrime. For example, AI is detailed as a technology that could benefit law enforcement by helping to improve the security of systems and devices.
SEE: A winning strategy for cybersecurity (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)
But the report also warns that it could help provide hackers with new attack vectors for conducting malicious activity, such as improving the already high success of phishing attacks by using AI to tailor malicious emails and responses, as well as deploying AI to determine the best targets.
The spread of AI could also make it much simpler for malicious actors with limited levels of expertise to conduct sophisticated campaigns. One area Europol fears this could have an impact is in the realm of deepfakes and disinformation – the report even warns that “criminals are already reported to have used deepfake audio impersonating chief executives in an attempt to defraud organisations”.
Quantum computing is also identified as a potential risk to the cybersecurity of European citizens. While experts say that quantum computing can help boost the security of systems, Europol warns that there’s the potential that the technology could fall into the wrong hands, and these individuals could exploit the power to crack the encryption of machines using the current standard.
“Malicious actors in possession of a quantum computer would have the opportunity to break traditional security standards, orchestrate far more sophisticated cyberattacks, or decrypt information and communications,” the report warns.
There are also concerns around 5G mobile connectivity, due to the challenges it could provide for law enforcement. The report argues that 5G technology will “complicate the use of the unique mobile phone card identifiers that allow law enforcement to identify and locate devices”, making it more difficult to carry out legally permissible technical investigation and surveillance measures of suspected criminals.
This would mean “one of the most important tactical operational and investigation tools would therefore become obsolete”, providing a potential boon for criminals who want to hide.
“The potential challenges for law enforcement as a result of developments within the area of 5G do not appear to be a priority for developers,” the paper adds.
The rise of the Internet of Things has already caused security issues – such as the Mirai botnet – but there’s a fear that as more and more IoT devices enter homes and workplaces, the insecurity in them could prove extremely lucrative for them.
“The vulnerability of IoT devices may be exploited by criminals seeking to collect personal data, compromise user credentials or even spy on people or organisations,” warns the report.
Europol has already made efforts to boost security in the Internet of Things, but the organisation is aware more work needs to be done.
However, the report isn’t all doom and gloom, as it points out how ever-advancing technology can also help benefit law enforcement, with AI and machine learning able to play a prominent role in the fight against crime and terrorism.
“It is no longer good enough to be reactive. Our ability to predict which emerging technologies criminals will turn to next is instrumental to our mission of keeping EU citizens safe,” said Europol’s executive director, Catherine De Bolle.
MORE ON CYBERCRIME
The Five Pillars of (Azure) Cloud-based Application Security
This 1-hour webinar from GigaOm brings together experts in Azure cloud application migration and security, featuring GigaOm analyst Jon Collins and special guests from Fortinet, Director of Product Marketing for Public Cloud, Daniel Schrader, and Global Director of Public Cloud Architecture and Engineering, Aidan Walden.
These interesting times have accelerated the drive towards digital transformation, application rationalization, and migration to cloud-based architectures. Enterprise organizations are looking to increase efficiency, but without impacting performance or increasing risk, either from infrastructure resilience or end-user behaviors.
Success requires a combination of best practice and appropriate use of technology, depending on where the organization is on its cloud journey. Elements such as zero-trust access and security-driven networking need to be deployed in parallel with security-first operations, breach prevention and response.
If you are looking to migrate applications to the cloud and want to be sure your approach maximizes delivery whilst minimizing risk, this webinar is for you.
Data Management and Secure Data Storage for the Enterprise
This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research brings together experts in data management and security, featuring GigaOm Analyst Enrico Signoretti and special guest from RackTop Systems, Jonathan Halstuch. The discussion will focus on data storage and how to protect data against cyberattacks.
Most of the recent news coverage and analysis of cyberattacks focus on hackers getting access and control of critical systems. Yet rarely is it mentioned that the most valuable asset for the organizations under attack is the data contained in these systems.
In this webinar, you will learn about the risks and costs of a poor data security management approach, and how to improve your data storage to prevent and mitigate the consequences of a compromised infrastructure.
CISO Podcast: Talking Anti-Phishing Solutions
Simon Gibson earlier this year published the report, “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” which assessed more than a dozen security solutions focused on detecting and mitigating email-borne threats and vulnerabilities. As Gibson noted in his report, email remains a prime vector for attack, reflecting the strategic role it plays in corporate communications.
Earlier this week, Gibson’s report was a featured topic of discussions on David Spark’s popular CISO Security Vendor Relationship Podcast. In it, Spark interviewed a pair of chief information security officers—Mike Johnson, CISO for SalesForce, and James Dolph, CISO for Guidewire Software—to get their take on the role of anti-phishing solutions.
“I want to first give GigaOm some credit here for really pointing out the need to decide what to do with detections,” Johnson said when asked for his thoughts about selecting an anti-phishing tool. “I think a lot of companies charge into a solution for anti-phishing without thinking about what they are going to do when the thing triggers.”
As Johnson noted, the needs and vulnerabilities of a large organization aligned on Microsoft 365 are very different from those of a smaller outfit working with GSuite. A malicious Excel macro-laden file, for example, poses a credible threat to a Microsoft shop and therefore argues for a detonation solution to detect and neutralize malicious payloads before they can spread and morph. On the other hand, a smaller company is more exposed to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, since spending authority is often spread among many employees in these businesses.
Gibson’s radar report describes both in-line and out-of-band solutions, but Johnson said cloud-aligned infrastructures argue against traditional in-line schemes.
“If you put an in-line solution in front of [Microsoft] 365 or in front of GSuite, you are likely decreasing your reliability, because you’ve now introduced this single point of failure. Google and Microsoft have this massive amount of reliability that is built in,” Johnson said.
So how should IT decision makers go about selecting an anti-phishing solution? Dolph answered that question with a series of questions of his own:
“Does it nail the basics? Does it fit with the technologies we have in place? And then secondarily, is it reliable, is it tunable, is it manageable?” he asked. “Because it can add a lot overhead, especially if you have a small team if these tools are really disruptive to the email flow.”
Dolph concluded by noting that it’s important for solutions to provide insight that can help organizations target their protections, as well as support both training and awareness around threats. Finally, he urged organizations to consider how they can measure the effectiveness of solutions.
“I may look at other solutions in the future and how do I compare those solutions to the benchmark of what we have in place?”
Listen to the Podcast: CISO Podcast
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