“Cybersecurity is Not Just an IT Issue” Raj Samani, McAfee Chief Scientist

Courtesy of McAfee

5G provides a big step towards a fully automated and connected digital society. But this won’t be without risks and we could end up on the edge of a cyber war. The good news: good practices are within everyone’s reach, according to McAfee Chief Scientist Raj Samani.

5G is coming and with it more data and lower latency. This 5th generation networking will soon allow 50 billion smart devices to be connected at once. Thousands of people inside a stadium will be able to surf online at unprecedented speeds. But with 5G comes a multitude of risks, McAfee Chief Scientist Raj Samani warns,

There have been concerns about the supply chain of the connected infrastructure itself. It raises questions on how a network is going to be managed. Will we have true end-to-end encryption? With all the devices that are going to be connected, how are we going to be able to authenticate?

With devices and sensors that can now be fully connected entering our homes, cars and even our bodies, privacy is at risk.

We started at McAfee as a company providing anti-virus. And now we have a secured home platform program that protects the consumer’s IoT devices in the home. This is the challenge of industry. We are also working on solutions for smartphones.

The Spy on Your Mobile

Smartphones are indeed the new gateway for hacking and we don’t protect them. Our smartphones could be used for espionage.

You are touching here on the fundamental issue of cyber security. A phone today is more than just a phone. We can change the heat of our house from it. We can manage our banking accounts from it. And yet, we keep calling it a phone whereas it is nothing like a mobile phone anymore. In our mobile threat report that was published this week, we have evidence that North Korean defectors will be targeted through malicious activities by a nation state that will be able to spy on them in order to know where they are, what they’re talking about and who they’re talking to. In this case of an authoritarian country spying on dissidents, it can be a matter of life and death. So the biggest challenge that faces the industry is getting people to understand that this is not an IT issue.

Mobile Gaming and the New Digital Crime

The appetite for mobile gaming is another interesting habit to look at. With 5G, the promise of super-fast speeds and low-latency will encourage people to download free games like Epic Games’ Fortnite. Such mobile games are offering millions of dollars in prize funds for competitions and therefore attracting a growing number of players… and hackers who want their part of the share.

And according to Raj, as the number of gamers keeps growing, the combo 5G + Fortnite could be a win-win for criminals.

If you look at the number of Fortnite fake apps in January 2018, there were maybe 4,000 or 5,000 detections. By December 2018, it was close to 70,000. Another example is banking fraud detections. We went from 2,000 in January 2018 to 25,000 in December 2018. There are also close to 2 million mobile malwares today. And the threat increases. People are moving from traditional crime to digital crime because it is easier to get payed.

But cybersecurity is not hard to implement, Raj warns. Everybody can follow good practices on his or her own level, starting with passwords and back-ups.

Why don’t  people have a backup? Why do they have poor passwords? The goal of cybersecurity is to provide enough security so as to make the attack financially not worthwhile.


About the Author

Journalist and the Editor-in-Chief for DirectIndustry e-magazine. She has years of experience in business issues for various media including France 24, Associated Press, Radio France…

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