Governments are ill-prepared to combat the looming threat of "online murder" as cyber criminals exploit internet technology to target victims, the European policing agency warned. In its most alarming assessment of the physical danger posed by online crime, Europol said it expected a rise in "injury and possible deaths" caused by computer attacks on critical safety equipment, The Independent reports.
Police forensic techniques need to "adapt and grow" to address the dangers posed by the so-called "Internet of Everything" – a new era of technological interconnectedness in which everything from garage doors to hospital health systems will be linked and controlled through computer networks.
The concept is behind the likely development of smart homes, cars and even cities, but police warned that the failure to protect devices properly could see them open to being hacked by outsiders to make money or to attack opponents.
The Europol threat assessment published last week cited a report by US security firm IID that predicted the first murder via "hacked internet-connected device" by the end of 2014. There have been no proven cases of murder by tampering with devices but hackers have highlighted numerous flaws in computer security systems.
In a series of high-profile stunts, Barnaby Jack hacked into cash machines to make them spew money, and exploited a flaw in an insulin pump. He died last year just before he was about to demonstrate how pacemakers could be hacked.
The former US vice-president Dick Cheney – who has a long history of heart problems – revealed last year that the wireless function had been disabled on his implanted defibrillator because of concerns that outsiders could hack the network and provoke a heart attack.