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Smart device fatality likely in 2016, says Trend Micro

Systems failure or hacking of connected device could prove deadly, security company warns

Smart device fatality likely in 2016, says Trend Micro
Failures or hacking of medical systems, traffic controls or smart home systems could kill, Trend Micro says.

Hacking or systems failure in a smart device may prove deadly in 2016, Trend Micro has warned.

According to the security company's 2016 Security Predictions, as more consumer-grade smart devices are used in day-to-day activities, at least one device failure will be lethal in 2016.

Trend Micro said that there are a number of scenarios where connected technology failures, or deliberate hacks, could cost human lives.

The company said the most likely area for fatal issues would be with medical equipment, such as heart and kidney equipment, or automated oxygen and anesthesia systems. Connected medical systems are a growing area of concern - in June, the US FDA issued a warning to medical device manufacturers about backdoors into software control systems and the risk that these flaws could be exploited by hackers. The Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT), a liaison group between the US Department of Homeland Security and private industry also issued a warning in June about the vulnerabilities caused by hard-coded, default passwords in medical systems, and in 2014 the FDA issued a product recall for the ARKON anesthesia delivery system after a dangerous flaw was found in its control software.

Other areas where a security breach or systems failure could prove fatal include home automation systems which could be hacked to cause the thermostat to malfunction, which could be fatal given some circumstances (for instance, in the middle of a blizzard) or the risk of traffic lights malfunction which could cause fatal vehicular accidents, Trend said.

The company also highlighted the possible risk of collision with drones, or drivers or pilots being distracted by drones and crashing.

Jon Clay, senior global marketing manager, Trend Micro commented: "As more and more aspects of daily life become connected through the Internet of Things, the likelihood of something going wrong increases. While we hope this doesn't occur, it is more likely this prediction will be realised through a software glitch or error rather than via a hack. The increased influence and control devices will have in daily activities, however, further reinforces the idea that a failure or hack of a critical device could happen."

Trend's ‘The Fine Line: 2016 Security Predictions' report also expects a continued growth in online extortion, hacktivism and mobile malware in 2016, as well as a shift to an offensive cybersecurity posture for government entities and corporations.

"We anticipate 2016 to be a very significant year for both sides of the cybercrime equation," said Raimund Genes, CTO, Trend Micro. "Governments and enterprises will begin to see the benefit of cybersecurity foresight, with changes in legislation and the increasing addition of cybersecurity officers within enterprises.  In addition, as users become more aware of online threats, attackers will react by developing sophisticated, personalized schemes to target individuals and corporations alike."

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