A recent report published by global research and advisory firm Gartner has predicted that cybercriminals and threat actors will have conjured up weaponized operational technology (OT) by 2025, which will prove to be life-threatening to humans. This shows that our fear of a robot revolution may become a reality in the near future.
This dystopian reality is at such a risk of occurring that Gartner has claimed that the possible impending doom of humanity is of greater concern than information breaches and thefts prevalent in large organizations today. Thus, it is imperative that leaders of organizations should address this matter urgently.
Attacks carried out even today on infrastructure are done with tools known as cyberweapons, and the Pegasus breach carried out by the NSO Group was a prime example of how Israel has been causing the widespread use of cyberweapons. Israel has built its foundations in the modern world by selling a unique kind of machine gun to competing powers, and there is reason to believe it is repeating this atrocity with cyber warfare weapons.
Though cyberattacks that have targeted physical infrastructure have only been able to inconvenience people’s lives rather than being harmful, Gartner has a grim outlook towards the future of these cyber attacks. The firm believes that the sinister changes being brought about in these attacks will likely lead to detrimental damage to humans, which may even end up taking their lives.
The Pegasus attack revealed that there might have been a link between the attack and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as Jamal’s relatives were found amongst the database of the victims of the attack.
What is the goal of such attacks?
At present, attacks occurring on OT and other cyber-physical systems (CPS) are done for three main reasons:
- To cause significant damage to particular individuals or organizations.
- To conduct commercial vandalism, which will result in a reduction of output for the business.
- To cause deterioration of reputation in certain vendors or manufacturers, so they are not trusted to conduct operations for businesses in the future.
Gartner fears that the first motivation stated above can result in grave financial implications, going on to state that the impact of CPS attacks which lead to fatalities, will likely rise above $50 billion by 2023. This figure is determined by taking into account the costs to the organization as a whole due to fines, compensation, insurance, litigation, and reputation loss. This is all before putting the value of human life into the equation.
Gartner emphasizes that the CEOs and higher-ups of organizations will be responsible for every death should this dystopian nightmare become a reality. Due to this, leaders and executives must tackle these issues head-on and prepare for the worst-case scenario as it may not remain an irrational fear much longer.
Gartner’s OT Security Control Framework has enclosed a 10-step plan for organizations to manage themselves accordingly to ensure that human lives are not needlessly risked when they can easily be saved.