The IT world is no longer a stranger to ransomware. All of us are aware of the vast amount of damage it can do, only having to look so far as last year’s WannaCry virus for an example of its destructive capabilities. But what happens when ransomware is used on platforms other than computers and smartphones, like connected cars? Is this a threat we must worry about?
It is, and it’s been dubbed jackware.
Currently, all documented cyberattacks have taken place in the world of data processing and digital communications. However, it’s quickly becoming clear that with the technological advancements in connected cars and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, jackware is likely to become an increasingly pressing issue.
What are IoT and connected cars?
Before understanding the basics of jackware, it’s important to have an idea of what’s at stake when it actually starts being deployed. IoT is a concept that explains how a person’s important devices can all be connected to the internet. A home security system can be monitored from a smartphone for example, or lights can be turned off and on while a person is away from their home.
Connected cars are exactly what their title suggests; they are vehicles linked to other devices and the internet. These cars use mobile internet technology to allow owners to track driving data and connect their car to their smartphone to perform operations like starting an engine or unlocking doors. Connected cars fall under the bracket of IoT since they are operated by means of a device using the internet.
Note that homes and cars are not the only places IoT can be used. Hotels have begun using IoT to control bookings and key card activation as well. Business owners may also use IoT to connect wireless security cameras, alarm systems, smart TVs and smart lighting. The industries using IoT vary and include retail establishments, healthcare facilities, and government institutions.
Okay, so what is jackware?
At its core, jackware will act the same as ransomware. When installed on a device, it will lock access and hold the device for ransom. It differs from ransomware in that it can disallow control to an entire device. If jackware is installed in someone’s smartphone, instead of holding a person’s important files or contact list for ransom, a hacker may disable access to a connected car or home security system until a sum of money is paid.
But homes aren’t the only place at risk. According to the Aruba IoT Research Report, currently approximately 57 percent of companies have adopted IoT technology, and by 2019 that number is expected to rise to 89 percent.
Jackware will be able to infiltrate IoT systems in place in businesses, locking employees out of buildings, and in some cases completely shutting down access to storefronts and other business endeavors.
The Aruba IoT Research Report states that 84 percent of organizations already using IoT have experienced some form of IoT-related security breach, meaning many IoT devices in use at home and in business are inadequately secured.
Judging by the current rampant climate of ransomware, jackware is less of a myth and more of a certainty. When it’s emergence will begin is indeterminable, as for now, people are still paying ransoms to retrieve data and self-driving cars are not a part of everyday life. But sooner or later they will be, and that’s potentially when jackware will be the most dangerous.