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Internet of everything comes with risks, says Cisco

Internet-enabled devices providing fresh avenues for cyber-criminals.

Internet of everything comes with risks, says Cisco
Dabboussi: Imagine if somebody could hack into your door lock and unlock it at 2am

As more smart devices are connected to the internet, cyber-criminals are finding more avenues to infiltrate networks and cause harm, according to Cisco's managing director for the UAE, Rabih Dabboussi.

With the world moving towards what Cisco calls the internet of everything, whereby internet-connected sensors are fixed to everything from washing machines to cars, cyber-criminals are deviating from traditional viruses and instead going after vulnerabilities in these emerging technologies, Dabboussi told ITP.net.

"This poses a new risk now, similar to what we've seen, for example, in the Stuxnet attack in Iran, and other attacks on some oil and gas companies and certain financial sector companies in the region," he said.

The Stuxnet virus was a highly targeted attack that affected temperature sensors on Siemens nuclear power plant equipment in Iran, causing damage to a number of Iranian facilities. Cyber-criminals are now adopting similar methods for other targets, Dabboussi said.

"It's these focused attacks that may be specifically towards either technology in the industrial networks, or a specific protocol in the industrial networks," he explained.

In the near future, however, targeted attacks such as this could be extended to individuals, according to Dabboussi. As more devices, such as cars and door locks, become ‘smart', cyber-criminals could find ever more ways to cause disruption to individuals' lives.

"Imagine if somebody could shut off your car while you're driving it, or apply the brakes or accelerate the speed. Or imagine if somebody could hack into your door lock and unlock it at 2am and a burglar comes in," he said.

"It's these types of things that we now need to make sure we are tackling, as we are encouraging the adoption of smart technologies, smart sensors and smart solutions."

Dabboussi said that education on emerging security issues should be a prime concern for governments, organisations and individuals in the Middle East. He suggested taking proactive approaches to security awareness, whereby vendors and service providers alert the public to any upcoming threats.

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