While cybercriminals regularly go after computers and mobile devices, there are some unexpected targets that could make hacking incidents even more dangerous.
Here are three frightening things cybercriminals can hack:
Although drivers may not think their vehicle is as much of a target for cybercriminals as their electronics, there is the risk that hackers could infiltrate consumers' cars. There is a larger number of electric components in modern day cars that essentially make them giant computers, CNNMoney reported. From Wi-Fi connections to Bluetooth abilities, a car has plenty of entry points that could allow cybercriminals access to their cars and possibly modify its controls.
Since Internet-enabled features could potentially give cybercriminals a way to hack vehicles, lawmakers are calling for more data security protections in cars. Through requiring manufacturers to include security measures with their built-in wireless technology, it could help consumers defend against hackers who aim to manipulate their cars.
2. Medical Devices
With advancements in medical devices making them more connected to computers and portable devices, the federal government evaluated the security offered by this health care technology to ensure it is safe for computers, Reuters reported on Oct. 22, 2014. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security looked into the possibility that vulnerabilities in medical devices and other health care equipment could be used by cybercriminals.
Although there has not been reports of hackers going after patients directly by exploiting medical devices, the department is still analyzing the problems that could happen if hackers were able to gain control of this technology. For example, one risk is that hackers could gain control of a heart implant and cause it to malfunction within a patient.
With these security hazards, the DHS said it will cooperate with medical device manufacturers to improve software data security. The FDA is also working with companies to enhance the safety of medical devices.
3. Electric Grids
With an aging electric infrastructure, the U.S. is vulnerable to cyberattacks against its grid systems, CNNMoney reported. Last year, energy companies reported 79 instances of energy grid hacking, down from 145 in 2013. If cybercriminals were able to disrupt electricity to the grid, the loss of power could cause huge economic losses for consumers and businesses.
Although there was a decrease in the number of hacking incidents, data breaches at power companies were still common. A survey by ThreatTrack Security found 37 percent of energy firms reported a data breach between April 2013 and 2014. The government is also working with the DHS' Computer Emergency Readiness Team to protect the grid from attacks.
Paul O'Neil is senior information security advisor for CyberScout Consulting.