Worst of cyberattacks yet to come, say experts

PETALING JAYA, 27 Mei – Cybersecurity experts have warned that cyber breaches will only get worse with the emergence of 5G and the internet of things (IoT).

IoT describes the network of physical objects that are embedded with sensors, software and other technologies.

Ranging from smart devices to industrial tools, the IoT enables interconnection and the exchange of data with one another.

Murugason R Thangaratnam, CEO of cybersecurity company Novem CS, said that with 5G, hackers would have access to higher speeds and lower latency.

He said this would enable even faster security breaches and obtaining more data in a single hack.

He cautioned that the danger of “syncing” various personal smart devices was only a small prelude to the potentially bigger repercussions of IoT technology once it reached mainstream adoption.

“Now that we’ve synced all our stuff, like smartphones and smartwatches, as a hacker I can go through any of these channels to get your data,” he told FMT.

He said hackers could even obtain the health data of people who used smartwatches with heart rate monitors and sleep tracking.

Prakash Christiansen, CEO of Vulsan X Corp, agreed with Murugason, saying the evolution of technology only broadened the scale of cyber risks.

“5G will boost the speed of the internet and, with IoT technology, usage will surge,” he told FMT.

“As a result, the internet protocol (IP) addresses, via the endpoints, will grow exponentially and that could be leveraged as entry points for hackers.

“For example, CCTVs, smart gadgets, smart sensors, tech appliances can all be used as a medium for breaching or hacking.”

Vicks Kanagasingam, CEO of Censof Digital, said deploying IoT solutions would automate data capture in many processes, which were currently captured manually.

He said this data would then be stored in the “cloud” where a single-entry point could give access to all the collected data of an entity.

He pointed out that the effects could have far-reaching implications as even core businesses began adopting newer technology.

“Once full adoption has been reached, imagine if someone hacked all the food manufacturing plants and managed to corrupt their software.

“If that were to happen, we would be looking at a nationwide crisis,” he said.

Vicks conceded that Malaysian businesses were yet to fully integrate IoT due to high investment costs.

However, full-scale integration was inescapable as they would be forced to adopt it to remain competitive in the long run.

“When Covid-19 came, many companies realised they could have managed their factories remotely had they integrated and digitalised with IoT technology to automate their processes,” he said.

As a result, adoption in the country was starting to grow, and Malaysia was expected to have over 100 million connected IoT devices by 2030.

Murugason said the first step in handling the cyberattacks to come was accepting its inevitability and taking protective measures.

“The cyberattacks are definitely going to increase, especially when 5G and IoT come into play,” he said.