Modern Crime: Will Cyber-Assassinations Soon Be A Reality?


As we hurtle forward into the digital, connected future, ever more objects are becoming targets for hackers and malicious software.

Where once hacks only affected computers, they now bring down everything from cars to power grids and thermostats to secretive nuclear enrichment programs.

So how long until a hack doesn’t just cause a nuisance or monetary losses but actually kills someone?

One well-respected security expert thinks humanity will see its first death as a result of a hack within 10 years – and it may even have already happened.

“It could have happened already, but we don’t know. Stuxnet could already have killed people,” Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer for F-Secure, told Business Insider, referring to the sophisticated computer worm that targeted Iranian nuclear facilities that most people believe was developed by the American and Israeli intelligence services.

“We don’t know if it killed people, it’s possible because it caused centrifuges which are filled with uranium gas to break down in the middle of their spinning cycle, so if there are scientists in the room they could’ve died … I guess the Iranians would have told the world if Americans had killed people with the hack.”

“We as mankind crossed a line”

Hypponen is a highly regarded security expert who has been working in the field since the ’90s. He’s a regular public speaker on the subject, once tracked down the authors of the first ever computer virus, and has been profiled by Vanity Fair.

The security executive doesn’t think whether someone has died is what’s important. “The important part is the Americans and the Israelis must have understood what they were doing. It could kill people, and they did it anyway. And I think we crossed some line – we as mankind crossed some line – when they made that decision.”

Stuxnet isn’t the only time we’ve seen a hack with potentially fatal consequences. In December 2015, the Ukrainian power grid was taken offline by a devastating hack. Had it gone on longer, or had conditions been worse, it could have easily resulted in a death. “If the power outage had gone for longer, yeah, we would’ve had people starting to die for many different reasons. Hospitals starting to fail, or just people starting to freeze because it’s December.”

Like Stuxnet, nation-state-sponsored hackers are suspected, with investigators pointing fingers at a Russia-based team.

Read the Remainder at Business Inisder