The rise of cybercriminals

16th December 2019cyber security

Recently, Amazon’s Alexa turned a new corner in AI technology, and rolled out a brand-new email-reading feature to its virtual assistant, allowing it to read a review of your new emails and messages from the last 24 hours.

When it does, you can choose to read, delete, or answer and archive those messages, all without touching your actual computer. The feature currently works exclusively with Gmail and Microsoft’s Outlook, Hotmail, and Live. The handy tool allows you to sift through emails while getting dressed, or driving to work etc.

Is Alexa spying on you?

After it was discovered Amazon was paying thousands of workers to listen in on random customers in efforts to continue improving the language perception of the device, people began to feel slightly uncomfortable about this extra pair of ears in their homes. The addition of email access has left many people wary.

Since the dawn of Alexa and such AI assistants, questions of security have always loomed in the background. Allowing a mic into your home seems like an open invitation for eavesdroppers. And while the device is fun and useful and with privacy protections of its own – allowing it to access and read out your private emails, to some, seems like risky business.

Amazon has stated that for the email to work on Alexa, you must link your email account in the Alexa app. By doing so, some of your emails and contacts are stored in the cloud to provide the service. However, this information is encrypted and stored securely in Amazon’s servers. Amazon doesn’t usually read private emails, only in particular cases like for security or compliance purposes, such as investigating abuse or a bug. For now, users are advised to listen to private emails away from prying ears.

Could this be the next key area for cybercriminals to target?

Medical Data Hacking

In recent times, medical records have also been victims of cyber-attack.

Now a new concern or potential weak link that is being targeted by hackers with regards to medical data are digital radiological devices. These are increasingly connected to IT systems; a cleverly noticed niche for abuse. Security concerns for imaging professionals are on the rise too, as it has become more apparent that archived medical information is vulnerable to theft.

Ranging from outdated operating systems on imaging devices to careless use of passwords to misguided efforts to make it easy to exchange image files; radiologists are under pressure to tighten their cybersecurity practices.

With healthcare organisations falling behind in their cybersecurity efforts – possibly due to staff shortages and constant financial strain -there’s a growing realisation of vulnerabilities. For example; some imaging systems still operate on Windows XP, for which Microsoft no longer provides security updates – leaving them wide open to attack.

These devices are not exactly leaving the door wide open for hackers, but they are certainly holding it ajar. If criminals do gain access to your device, they can then jump over to your business critical systems and access personal data, or just cause chaos deleting data and installing ransomware.

For this reason, home workers with connected devices such as baby monitors, washing machines and alarms are a serious security threat to company systems.

For more information about how to better protect your organisation from cybercriminals, get in touch with our specialists on 01673 88 55 33.

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