Cyber crime in 2025: New threats mingle with old risks

As our physical and digital worlds become more networked, cyber thieves will use time-tested techniques to pull off scams

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One guaranteed innovation is next-generation Internet search. In the near future, everything you see or hear (digitally at first, then beyond) will be augmented by a built-in search experience, through which you'll be able to call up more information or even make an immediate purchase. During your favorite sitcom, you may see an oversized coffee cup you want. With a touch, you'll be able to purchase the item. Watching an NBA game on television, you'll be able to select your favorite player to view his stats, buy his jersey, or get tickets to his next game. A bit further down the road, you may see the perfect bike go by. You'll be able to immediately get information about the bike and learn where you can buy it at the lowest price.

The days of seeing something interesting and having to go back to your computer to manually search for information will seem passé. Our grandkids will laugh to hear that we had to conjure up the best search terms and hope for relevant results. Do you have a Victrola and a fireside chat to go with that?

Cyber threats of tomorrow
This highly connected, uber-augmented world will bring a host of different security threats -- though they won't be far too different from the threats we see today.

A positive note: In a couple of decades, we'll surely have Internet trust under control. The Internet simply can't continue growing without better security prevailing. I'm convinced the future Internet will be more like the peaceful, quaint world of Mayberry than the chaotic, post-apocalyptic dystopia of "Mad Max."

The bad guys will be attacking protocols instead applications. A Web 10.0 world will have many operating systems and platforms. Attacking a single app won't get you much -- but since every app will share the same protocols, that's where they money resides. Think XML worms, OpenAuth attacks, and more.

Forget cyber crimes where large sums of money are swiped all at once. Within the next couple of decades, big money holders will have figured out how to catch the overly brazen thieves. More likely, malicious hackers will pull off crimes such as modifying micropayments across a million customers, raking in a sizable haul one half-cent at a time.

Adware scams will become augmented-reality interceptions. When you try to learn about a subject or make a purchase online (such as the oversized mug you saw on TV), a form of malware will, unbeknownst to you, reroute you to another provider. You won't get the best price after all.

Our wearable computers will readily transmit transaction information through our bodies and our clothes. Will that enable robbers to steal from you by simply brushing against you? Bluetooth interception will probably seem quaint compared to what future cyber thieves will dream up.

Will attackers be able to overpower law enforcement's ability to stop cars dead in their tracks to begin heists? Will those same attackers be able to disable all the law enforcement cars coming to your aid?

Will cyber detectives spend time tracking down attackers that initiated murder remotely, like manipulating a pacemaker or causing the autosteering function in someone's car to prematurely disengage?

Will cyber viruses cause real illness? It's not as far-fetched as you might think. As we continue to blur the line between humans and computers with the ultimate human interfaces, what's to stop cyber organisms from crossing the blood-membrane barrier?

One thing I know is that cyber crime will not be zero, not as long as there is some semblance of freedom in the world.

The big question: Will we remember these days fondly because things will be so much worse? Or, as I hope, will we reach an era of greater security and view this age as a romanticized time, equivalent to days of the Wild West?

This story, "Cyber crime in 2025: New threats mingle with old risks," was originally published at Keep up on the latest developments in network security and read more of Roger Grimes's Security Adviser blog at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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