As technology evolves, so does cybercrime. Stealthier malware and increasingly larger-scale cyberattacks give rise to unsettling possibilities about the world’s digital future. Wearable, implantable technology and rampant drone manufacturing have the potential to increase the digital and mechanical endpoints that malicious forces can compromise.

These recent reports along with research figures indicate that cybercrime’s power and pervasiveness could rise to staggering heights.

1. Drone-based hacks.

SensePost Security in London developed technology called Snoopy that was mounted on a drone, and then hacked into mobile devices from the air to obtain data. In a March test run, the drone obtained the network names and GPS coordinates for about 150 mobile devices, as well as Amazon, PayPal and Yahoo usernames and passwords for dummy accounts created for the exercise. Glenn Wilkinson, a Sensepost security researcher, told CNN Money that the research’s purpose was to raise awareness about mobile device vulnerabilities.

The potential for a new, drone-based attack vector will increase as drone interest and development grows worldwide. Recent drone development programs include the Federal Aviation Administration’s selection of six sites in 2013 for long-term drone development, and the European Union’s $320 million-plus spending on surveillance drone manufacturing in years past.

2. A growing black market for cybertools.

Cyberexploits are becoming easier to deploy — even for people with no hacking or programming skills. Cyber “black markets,” places where people can buy ready-made exploit kits, stolen data and software that creates and manages attacks, are maturing. A 2014 RAND study claims that anyone with funding can buy or rent hacks on demand, including governments.

3. Hacks on the human body.

Wearable tech isn’t yet commonplace, but many people believe that we’re on the verge of the technology’s boom. If smart watches, contacts, shirts and who knows what else take off and become connected to the Internet, that could give hackers the ability to intrude into people’s lives more intimately than in the past. Trend Micro claimed in a recent report that wearables could allow hacks against the human body in large frequency by 2020.

But law enforcement’s not ignoring cybercrime’s rampant rise. FBI agent Tim Hearl told CBS Chicago earlier this year that cyberterrorism will become the federal government’s No. 1 priority over all other threats, and RAND analyst Lillian Ablon told Bloomberg news last month that law enforcement personnel’s becoming more tech savvy in general.

“In the last 10 to 15 years, more digital natives are entering law enforcement, they’re more savvy with technology. There are better partnerships and cross-pollination between groups and organizations,” Ablon claimed.

Hilton Collins, Staff Writer
Hilton Collins  |  GT Staff Writer

By day, Hilton Collins is a staff writer for Government Technology and Emergency Management magazines who covers sustainability, cybersecurity and disaster management issues. By night, he’s a sci-fi/fantasy fanatic, and if he had to choose between comic books, movies, TV shows and novels, he’d have a brain aneurysm. He can be reached at hcollins@govtech.com and on @hiltoncollins on Twitter.