First IoT-mediated murder could occur in 2014, experts warn

Recent reports shed light on risks the Internet of Things could pose to human life

Cyber crime

Security experts fear the first "online murder" could occur before the end of 2014, with the Internet of Things (IoT) expected to play a key role in its orchestration.

The threat was flagged in Europol's recent Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment report, which said the rise of the IoT could see it increasingly used by criminals to carry out evil deeds.

The same report also raised the prospect of the "Crime-as-a-Service" business model making it easier for wannabe cyber attackers to get access to increasingly sophisticated tools, and the danger this poses to businesses and end users. 

"With more objects being connected to the internet and the creation of new types of critical infrastructure, we can expect to see (more) targeted attacks on existing and emerging infrastructures, including new forms of blackmailing and extortion schemes, data theft, physical injury and possible death," the report states.

To add weight to its concerns, the document cites another report by US security research firm IID from December 2013, which predicts the first ever "public case of murder", mediated by a hacked internet-connected device, will happen in 2014.

 "The once optimistic concept of the Internet of Things,' where virtually everything electronic is conveniently connected to the internet will reveal its dark side," IID stated.

"Malicious hackers will have the power to provoke chaos inside your home, burning your house down by hacking your oven to flood your house with gas and ignite it, or remotely turning off your security system to allow burglars inside."

Fears about how internet-connected devices could be re-purposed for malicious purposes have been growing for some time, with medical equipment regularly being singled out as particularly vulnerable to attack.

 Two years ago, security firm Bitdefender issued guidance about the potential for an attack against software-controlled medical devices, including pacemakers, insulin pumps and defibrillators.

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