A recent FBI warning says smart TVs could leave users vulnerable to cyber criminals. Deepfakes may soon become impossible to detect. Drug-resistant superbugs may be teaching each other how to fight off antibiotics. Smart buildings may be more vulnerable to cyber attack than previously thought.
In early December, at the height of the pre-holiday super sales, an FBI field office in Oregon released a consumer warning that smart TVs may be vulnerable to intrusion by cyber criminals.
Next-gen smart TVs go beyond Internet connections, often including facial recognition capabilities and microphones. These features enable Internet streaming services and voice-commands but can also allow television manufacturers and app developers to snoop on consumers. Even worse, they can provide an opening for hackers to take control of unsecured smart TVs, the FBI warns.
“At the low end of the risk spectrum, they can change channels, play with the volume, and show your kids inappropriate videos,” the FBI warning states. “In a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TV’s camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you.”
For decades, computer software has allowed people to manipulate photos and videos or create fake images from scratch. But it has been a slow, painstaking process usually reserved for those trained in software like Adobe Photoshop or After Effects.
Now, AI technologies can streamline the process, reducing the cost, time and skill needed to doctor digital images. These AI systems learn on their own how to build fake images by analyzing thousands of real ones.
Right now, deepfake videos have subtle imperfections that can be readily detected by automated systems, if not by the naked eye. But some researchers argue that the improved technology will soon be powerful enough to create fake images without these tiny defects.
The Insurance Information Institute has imagined ways in which deepfakes will become insurance claims. Among them, a deepfaked audio of a CFO directing a company’s billing department to route thousands of dollars to a fake bank account, resulting a cyber claims and a deepfake video of a public company CEO reporting made-up negative financial results, leading to a significant drop in the company’s stock—and D&O losses.
Don’t forget deepfake claims fraud: A deepfake video of a person slipping in a grocery store and alleging negligence.
Every 15 minutes, someone in the United States dies of a superbug that has learned to outsmart even the most sophisticated antibiotics, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s about 35,000 deaths each year from drug-resistant infections.
The report says some superbugs circulating in the community have even figured out how to “teach” each other how to fight off antibiotics by sharing their resistance genes with each other.
The report places five drug-resistant superbugs on the CDC’s “urgent threat” list: C. diff infection, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter and Candida auris.
While superbugs typically attack frail, elderly people, anyone can contract a superbug. For example, C. diff infection, which causes 12,800 deaths a year in the United States, is usually a side effect of taking antibiotics. In fact, people taking antibiotics are 7 to 10 times more likely to get C. diff while on the drugs and during the month after.
CDC estimates that about a third of prescriptions for antibiotics in emergency rooms and doctors’ offices were given for infections that didn’t need them—that’s 47 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions each year.
Smart buildings are vulnerable to cyber attacks from ordinary malware such as spyware, phishing and ransomware.
A new report from global cybersecurity firm Kaspersky analyzed 40,000 smart buildings worldwide that use the firm’s security products and found that 37.8 percent had been affected by a malicious cyber attack. In most cases, these attacks were attempting to infect the computers that control smart building automation systems.
Kaspersky warns that these attacks should not be underestimated since the computers control many of the mission-critical processes at hospitals, public transport hubs, shopping malls and even prisons. Computers in smart buildings are also used to control the sensors and controllers used for elevators, ventilation systems, heating systems, lighting, water, video surveillance systems, alarms, fire extinguishing systems, and other mission-critical functions.
IT administrators at smart buildings should be vigilant for telltale signs that a smart building computer automation system has been compromised, such as elevator systems that fail to work as planned, video surveillance cameras that go on and off, or alarm systems that go off for unknown reasons.
According to Kaspersky, 26 percent of the threats are being introduced into smart building automation systems via the web; 10 percent are coming from memory sticks, flash drives and external hard drives; 10 percent are coming from corrupted email links; and another 1.5 percent are coming from shared folders on a corporate network.