Security not-fit-for-purpose on connected vehicles says Kaspersky

Posted: 2 March 2017 | By Michael Garwood

The CEO of cyber-security specialists Kaspersky Labs, has warned that security platforms being developed for smart devices – including connected vehicles – are not-fit-for-purpose and are vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Eugene Kaspersky, who formed the company in 1997, used is keynoted address at Mobile World Congress to encourage companies and technologists to rethink their focus ahead of “Industrial Revolution 4.0,” to keep people safe and the tech under control.

To illustrate his point, Kaspersky begun his talk in theatrical fashion by dimming the light and claiming to be a man from the future brought back to save humanity from the threat of machines. Sound familiar? He even quoted lines directly from the Terminator.

“In a few years, all this, the whole place, everything will be gone. There was a virus, but nobody knew who started it. It was the machines. They got smart very smart. Self-learning AI. And one day everything with a computer inside went out of control. Turbines, elevators, trains fridges, coffee machines and even fridges. Smarts cars revolted from their masters and roamed the streets. I’m from the future to tell you how to take control of the world back.”

“We must guarantee what we produce is safe and secure”

Whilst his comments and indeed attempts of an Austrian accent (Kaspersky is Russian born) brought chuckles from the audience, his points were serious.

He claimed the current methods being deployed by technology firms around security are similar to those that were built “40 or 50 years ago,” when cyber threats didn’t exist.

He also noted that the first cyber-attack on a connect vehicle took place in 2015, in which hackers were able to take control of the vehicle. With autonomous vehicles now increasingly being deployed – and driverless vehicles less than a decade away, the potential risks are clear.

Work to do 

“All the production lines must be not only be protected, but we must guarantee what we produce is safe and secure,” said Kaspersky. “Unfortunately, we have new technologists and new systems that are working on vulnerable platforms which are at risk for being hacked.

“All the cars are vulnerable. Transportation will be automated; not only on the railways, but the air, on the seas and in cars. We have a lot of work to do.”



Threat to our way of life 

To illustrate the point further, Kaspersky, who has 27 years’ experience in cyber-crime, gave examples from 2016, where hackers were able to cause a complete black-out in Kiev, Ukraine by taking control of their power grids. Finland also fell victim when a hacker took over its heating systems during the winter.

“Imagine what a true blackout is like. Nothing works. Yes, you still have petrol in your car and there is still diesel in the generators but after that nothing works. No water, no air-conditioning, no elevators, no internet, no mobile, nothing. Unfortunately, this scenario is very real.

The only way to avoid this is to design the new systems. Not only secure but immune. Is it possible? I believe yes. we have technologists, we have products, ideas and platforms to design new generation of software. It’s my dream to have un-hackable devices that have zero risks or a hack or attack. A world where you can connect your car to the internet and it will be 100 per cent safe and immune.

He concluded: “I like to live in the world of smart devices. But we have a lot of things to redesign. the cyber critical structure is everywhere around.  Look in any direction and you will see devices that are smart and all that must be redesigned.”

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