Without a doubt, we are heading toward a connected future. A future, where humans and the devices they use will be interconnected. From the corner office of your office, you will have the power to turn off the air conditioner in your living room. Your driverless car will communicate with GPS to ensure you don’t have to sit through a traffic jam. The future looks truly promising – a testament to what the complex human brain can possibly achieve.
However, the same human mind, that has the power to dream, innovate, execute, and accomplish, also has the cunning ability to connive, destruct, and hold others to ransom. If someone with devious intentions sneaks through the loopholes of your connected future, it won’t be your computer that’ll be on line, it can pretty much be your entire being. Sound dystopian? Well, the recent ransomware attacks should wake us up from our self-induced slumber.
WannaCry is the biggest cyberextortion attack yet, affecting over 200,000 devices around the world. The reason it has garnered mainstream media is it isn’t restricted to a single country or continent; it spread like a virulent disease to become a global pandemic. Although the “authorities” are now claiming that the infection has brought “under control”, it sure is a wake-up call for each one of us as we head into a connected future.
When the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes all-pervasive, an attack of this scale may turn into a global catastrophe. Hospitals, banks, flights, railways, and a litany of essential services may become vulnerable to an extortion of this scale. Therefore, it is pertinent to invest in safeguarding our important institutions from cyberattacks of all kinds. Securing IoT devices and its connected components is going to be a Herculean task – according to research carried out by Future Market Insights, spending on IoT security products market will witness a 16.5% CAGR through 2020. This is an encouraging statistic, but considering the behemoth expanse IoT will encompass, it will take a concerted effort to prevent future attacks.
One of the key reasons why WannaCry became so massive is that users around the globe had been pretty lax about updating their operating system and antivirus security. While Microsoft fixed loopholes in its newer versions, the fact that many users put off updating their software put their systems at risk. Although the malware seems to have been contained, more lethal variants may be in “development phase”. The answer to these threats is not to back off and live primitively, but to better prepare for exigencies that may arise when everything is connected to each other. And, the best way to do this is to collaborate, invest on R&D, and carrying out regular upgrades. Technology has the power to transform our lives drastically – the onus is on each one of us to be on the right side of it.