Hacking: Not Just for your Computer

Hacking is not a new concept. For years, the mere mention of hackers and their acts made people think of phishing schemes, computers being attacked and viruses – all impacting their home computers. While these areas are all still considered to be real threats, stories in the media are revealing an alarming truth: other devices we rely on are also vulnerable. With more and more products being controlled by computers, hackers are able to access and exploit a myriad of devices.

Sure, it may seem like the plot line out of the latest science fiction movie. But it’s not. Here are just three areas where hackers are making progress:

Cars
Security researchers have uncovered a security vulnerability in most modern cars that gives hackers the ability to control a vehicle with a video game controller. The researchers were able to access the  “’controller area networks,’ the network of sensors that control acceleration, braking, steering, monitor fluid levels and tire pressure, as well as hundreds of other functions.” By gaining access to these pivotal networks, researchers were able to take control of the car, including steering functionalities, disabling the breaks and adjusting the speed.

Medical Devices
We can thank the modern miracles of science for improving and extending life. But like Spiderman says, “with great power comes great responsibility.” These technological advances that are responsible for monitoring our health and keeping us alive are also vulnerable to outside threats. Devices, including heart monitors and mammogram machines, can be infected by malware, endangering the lives of the patients they’re working to save. Vulnerabilities have also been discovered in implanted devices, including pacemakers and insulin pumps. While there have been no reported attacks, hackers including the infamous, recently-deceased, Barnaby Jack have said that the devices have backdoors and with enough work can be accessed remotely.

Phones
SIM cards were previously believed to be the safe place to store information on your phone. But last month, a German cryptographer revealed that hackers can gain remote access to your SIM card, an issue that impacts at least half a billion phones worldwide. Once they’ve copied your SIM they can rack up expensive phone calls and text messages.

It can be frightening to think that these threats do exist, but recognizing potential problems is one of the first steps to keeping yourself safe. While staying on top of cybersecurity news and strategies will not entirely protect you from harm it will give you the advantage of knowing the dangers and preparing yourself accordingly.

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