THE MAGAZINE

Looking Ahead: Technology and Threats

By Matthew Harwood

What would you say to those who aren’t quite convinced of the future technosecurity threat?

For those who may doubt the coming onslaught of new and emerging security threats, I could do no better than to quote the noted science-fiction writer William Gibson from his novel Neuromancer: “The future is already here, it’s just not widely distributed.”

In other words, all of these futuristic crime and security threats already exist. Organized crime groups are using robots to engage in criminal activities. Artificial intelligence is being used to refine crime commission algorithms. Virtual world currencies are being exploited for money laundering. Locational data is being used for criminal purposes. To build upon Gibson’s point, I would ask, now that the future is here, what are we going to do about it?

Where does the security field go from here?

Many of the crime and security problems we face today exist because security was never engineered into a particular technology up front. When there were only six nodes on the Internet, nobody ever thought security would be required because “we all trust each other.” One of my goals with Future Crimes is to engage with biologists, roboticists, nanotechnologists, and artificial intelligence experts and share my knowledge of bad guys.

Scientific progress is fantastic, but most of the brilliant researchers conducting this work have never placed handcuffs on somebody or been the victim of a violent crime. They don’t, quite rightly, think like criminals. That’s our job. So for example, now that we’ve fully decoded the human genome, there are dozens of Web sites with lots of information on literally hacking biology. Perhaps now is the time to take a look at that situation and engineer in some safeguards up front before the problems start arising.

As the panoply of new technologies rapidly comes on board in the coming years, now is the time for security executives to engage with technologists and share our knowledge with them as a means of future crime prevention.
 

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