#hacking | A hacker almost certainly has your data. What are you going to do about it?


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But the future, he told the representatives gathered at the presentation lunch, was now..

“The fact is, AI is already being embedded into mission-critical systems across organisations even if you don’t know it yet,” Mr Gibian said.

“It might be at the third-party vendor level. It might be deep within the organisation somewhere but it is having an impact, and with it comes risks.”

Managing those risks would be a process every business large or small would struggle with, he said.

But compounding the problem was companies’ increasing hunger for raw data, usually gained through their customer base.

That data was incredibly valuable, both to the companies themselves and to hackers.

And if hackers wanted to get into a company, they would find a way, Mr Gibian insisted, saying most listed companies had been hacked at least once, whether they knew it or not.

“A lot of it [as a company] is making sure you’re not the easiest target, because if a hacker’s looking to do something, unless there’s a specific reason to hack you they won’t unless you’re a soft target,” he said.

“So the key is, don’t be a soft target.”

One of the ways that AI and connectivity are becoming more common for regular people is via the “internet of things”; that is, internet-connected devices inside our homes that often have an AI component or send data back to cloud servers.

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Mr Gibian told the audience about an experiment he was involved in conducting, which used “whisper hacking” – where commands were inaudible to the human ear but were easily picked up by a home device – to hack Amazon’s Alexa assistant to send people’s bank details.

On a much more general level, all sorts of data was being taken from you via apps and devices and stored on servers that had very likely been hacked.

The trouble was, most people didn’t understand how their data was being used or how vulnerable it was to being stolen, Mr Gibian said.

“Just by going online to some publicly available databases, we can usually buy around 6000 variables per person, just like that,” he said.

“And it’s all from things like your apps and it’s everything from geolocation down to detailed information about anything you’ve purchased.”

Even the US government was not immune from data hacking, Mr Gibian said, although there were protocols in place to deal with attempts on government servers.

“No one’s gotten inside the gap yet – the ‘air-gapped’ classified networks which are fully separated from any other systems,” he said.

“But there have been very, very significant breaches, and typically these don’t hit the front page of the [New York] Times, but there have been very serious incidents.”

The key to managing data going forward, Mr Gibian said, was to ensure everyone was literate in basic cyber security, from individuals to companies and governments, and that they took it seriously.

“These risks are only going to increase, and the need for people to understand what’s going on needs to be there,” he said.

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