A LIVE hack demonstration by cybercrime experts stunned audiences at Cork City Hall today.
More than 400 audience members packed into Millenium Hall for the sold-out IT@Cork tech summit.
Using the public Wi-Fi system, the ‘white hat hackers’ broke into a personal phone and computers.
The simulated hack gave attendees a taste of the real, pervasive, and threatening world of cybercrime, as well as hammering it home to each spectator just how vulnerable they are.
Director for cybercrime research at global cybersecurity company, Trend Micro, Robert McArdle, said: “Data breaches are one of the biggest risks to consumers today — and it is also completely out of their control.
“While already insidious, data breaches are going to get much worse in the very near future.”
He suggested that working within a more diverse team, including members of the autistic community, could help tackle threats from cybercrime.
Mr McArdle said we should be embracing people who have autism, and other more neuro-diverse individuals, as a clever way to tackle the problem.
“Some of the most innovative people in security I know have combined a passion for security with an amazingly unique autistic or neuro-diverse brain, to solve problems in a way you will never get from 98% of this room.
“The internet has created whole new classes of threats that have never existed for the majority of human history, so why should we assume that the majority of humans are the ones with the best minds to figure out how to stop them?”
“Cybercrime is not a technology problem: it’s a human one. Cybercrime is simply crime on the internet, and the internet lets us carry it faster, and at larger scales, than ever before.
“So, remember, you are not defending against computers; you are defending against smart humans. And there is no better way to do that than to embrace differences and assemble an agile team, with all sorts of world views, that can handle absolutely anything an attacker can throw at them.”
He gave the audience the lowdown on cybercrime all over the world, outlining the scary fact that Aadhar — the unique government ID system for India — was hacked last year and the records of 1.1bn people were stolen.
“This means that the private details of almost one in seven of the world’s population were in the hands of attackers,” Mr McArdle said.
As well as this, the cyber expert said that $2.7bn of financial losses were reported to the FBI for cybercrime in 2018, which is a fraction of the true extent.
“Firstly, this is only for the US, not the whole world. Secondly, this only accounts for known cases of cybercrime.”
Looking at what can be done, the cybercrime experts said education was key and cited the city’s courses in cyber security and cloud computing in CIT and UCC as important assets in this regard.
“Education removes the uncertainty of the tech side of today’s problems, and that, in turn, leads to reduced fear and more acceptance,” Mr McArdle said.