Coming soon: Murder by mouse click

Barnaby Jack
Barnaby Jack

According to the US internet security industry, murder committed by hacking into an internet-connected device is a real possibility.

Internet Identity predicted murder by internet in a report last year, stating: “With so many devices being internet connected, it makes murder relatively simple, at least from a technical perspective.”

This year’s report said that though there has yet to be a proved case of murder over the internet it might have happened and not been detected. It noted that former US vice-president Dick Cheney asked to have the wireless function of his pacemaker disabled to prevent it from being hacked.

The report said that, in June, the US Food and Drug Administration demanded that “the healthcare industry address vulnerabilities in internet-connected devices such as pacemakers, which could be hacked to send out lethal jolts of electricity, or insulin pumps, which can be reprogrammed to administer overdoses”.

Internet Identity also foresaw an increase in cyber warfare and cyber espionage. It claimed, as have other industry security companies, that China has a secret military unit that electronically infiltrates the networks of businesses, media houses and governments.

Security researcher Barnaby Jack died mysteriously in San Francisco earlier this year, only days before a scheduled appearance at a Las Vegas hacker conference where he intended to show how an ordinary pacemaker could be compromised in order to kill a man.

In South Africa up to 80% of companies are not running the monitoring software that could show the extent of hacking and cyber espionage.