US-CERT study predicts machine learning, transport systems to become security risks

You've been warned


The Carnegie-Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute has nominated transport systems, machine learning, and smart robots as needing better cyber-security risk and threat analysis.

That advice comes in the institute's third Emerging Technology Domains Risk Survey, a project it has handled for the US Department of Homeland Security's US-CERT since 2015. The surveys are cumulative, meaning any emerging technologies noted are in addition to those recommended for scrutiny in previous surveys. In other words, previously noted concerns are still live; it's not like phishing and firewall security should be forgotten about just because the latest study focuses on AI and transport stuff.

The report "helps US-CERT identify vulnerabilities, promote good security practices, and understand vulnerability risk," we're told.

The institute's CERT Coordination Centre (CERT/CC) sees machine learning as a potential security quagmire, since it expects aggressive adoption in the medium term, but use-cases are legion, making it difficult to observe from a security point of view. In its survey, published this month, the team stated:

“Characteristics of interest likely include big data applications dealing with sensitive information, security products whose efficacy depends on effective anomaly detection, and learning sensors that inform actions in physical reality (such as in self-driving vehicles).”

In its assessment of transport, the survey worries about long-term interconnectedness.

“Future intelligent transport systems will provide communications and data between connected and autonomous cars and trucks, road infrastructure, other types of vehicles, and even pedestrians and bicyclists,” the report notes.

Road transport will, the report predicts, also become increasingly integrated with public transport – so, for example, train or bus dispatches could be ramped up to relieve road congestion:

“A miscommunication in the system, whether accidental or intentional, could lead to numerous traffic accidents, causing property damage, injury, and possibly death … A compromise of a city-wide system could lead to a massive traffic jam or other major event.”

As for smart robots – a categorisation designed to distinguish this application from today's more common robots performing a strict and limited set of actions – CERT/CC has a host of fears if risks aren't managed.

They're likely to carry familiar software and network vulnerabilities into their workplaces, the survey says, adding the following observations:

It is not difficult to imagine the financial, operational, and safety impact of shutting down or modifying the behaviour of manufacturing robots, delivery drones; service-oriented or military humanoid robots; industrial controllers; or … robotic surgeons.

Are you depressed enough? If not, the survey also gives you the chance to read up on the risks of the Blockchain, IoT mesh networks, robotic surgery, smart buildings, and virtual personal assistants. The full report [PDF] has much more, in case you need something scary to read before bed. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Cheers ransomware hits VMware ESXi systems
    Now we can say extortionware has jumped the shark

    Another ransomware strain is targeting VMware ESXi servers, which have been the focus of extortionists and other miscreants in recent months.

    ESXi, a bare-metal hypervisor used by a broad range of organizations throughout the world, has become the target of such ransomware families as LockBit, Hive, and RansomEXX. The ubiquitous use of the technology, and the size of some companies that use it has made it an efficient way for crooks to infect large numbers of virtualized systems and connected devices and equipment, according to researchers with Trend Micro.

    "ESXi is widely used in enterprise settings for server virtualization," Trend Micro noted in a write-up this week. "It is therefore a popular target for ransomware attacks … Compromising ESXi servers has been a scheme used by some notorious cybercriminal groups because it is a means to swiftly spread the ransomware to many devices."

    Continue reading
  • Twitter founder Dorsey beats hasty retweet from the board
    We'll see you around the Block

    Twitter has officially entered the post-Dorsey age: its founder and two-time CEO's board term expired Wednesday, marking the first time the social media company hasn't had him around in some capacity.

    Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as Twitter chief exec in November 2021, and passed the baton to Parag Agrawal while remaining on the board. Now that board term has ended, and Dorsey has stepped down as expected. Agrawal has taken Dorsey's board seat; Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor has assumed the role of Twitter's board chair. 

    In his resignation announcement, Dorsey – who co-founded and is CEO of Block (formerly Square) – said having founders leading the companies they created can be severely limiting for an organization and can serve as a single point of failure. "I believe it's critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder's influence or direction," Dorsey said. He didn't respond to a request for further comment today. 

    Continue reading
  • Snowflake stock drops as some top customers cut usage
    You might say its valuation is melting away

    IPO darling Snowflake's share price took a beating in an already bearish market for tech stocks after filing weaker than expected financial guidance amid a slowdown in orders from some of its largest customers.

    For its first quarter of fiscal 2023, ended April 30, Snowflake's revenue grew 85 percent year-on-year to $422.4 million. The company made an operating loss of $188.8 million, albeit down from $205.6 million a year ago.

    Although surpassing revenue expectations, the cloud-based data warehousing business saw its valuation tumble 16 percent in extended trading on Wednesday. Its stock price dived from $133 apiece to $117 in after-hours trading, and today is cruising back at $127. That stumble arrived amid a general tech stock sell-off some observers said was overdue.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022