Europol Warns of Internet of Things Risk

In a newly released report, Europol’s European Cybercrime Center (EC3) warns that the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) threatens to strengthen the hand of organized cyber criminal groups and make life much more difficult for police and governments that wish to pursue them.

A Europol report warns that adoption of Internet of Things technologies will complicate online crime fighting.
A Europol report warns that adoption of Internet of Things technologies will complicate online crime fighting.

EC3’s latest Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment (iOCTA) says the “Internet of Everything” will greatly complicate the work of law enforcement creating “new opportunities for everything from cyber criminals to state actors to child abusers.

The growing numbers of connected devices will greatly expand the “attack surface” available for cyber criminal activity, the EC3 warns. Cyber criminals may co-opt connected devices for use in common criminal activity (like denial of service attacks and spam campaigns). However, advancements like connected (“smart”) vehicles and infrastructure create openings for large scale and disruptive attacks.

The report, which was published late last months, is a high level position paper and pulls data mostly from security industry sources, including data from anti-malware firms, media reports and government publications.

From the perspective of law enforcement and criminal investigators, the Internet of Things presents a number of challenges, according to the EC3 report. First: IoT’s reliance on trans-national cloud infrastructure and the diversity of endpoint types and configurations will make investigating crimes involving IoT devices and platforms a challenge.

“The Internet of Everything presents specific investigative challenges for LE (law enforcement) because of the number and diversity of hardware, software and communication protocols that LE needs to be able to examine,” the report warns.

link_scaledRead more Security Ledger coverage of the Internet of Things here.

Specifically: investigators will have to assemble data from cloud resources, requiring cross border cooperation and legal assistance. And relevant data may be spread across an array of small devices, requiring work and expertise to extract it and reassemble it.

Law enforcement will increasingly need to be able to muster both sophisticated forensic specialists on the front end and data analysts and tools on the back end.

“The increasing number and variety of devices is likely to result in a substantial increase in demand for LE forensics examination and investigation resources,” the report concludes. “It can be expected that the IoE will further complicate the attribution of crimes, given the increased attack surface and large number of attack vectors.”

Read the entire report here. Additional coverage over at Security Affairs here.

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