A small new government agency is exploring the national security challenges emerging with the Internet of Things, according to a Reuters report.
Established by the US Justice Department, the group has been getting organized for about half a year, and has just officially announced itself at this week’s Intelligence and National Security Alliance conference. Explaining the group’s mandate, the Justice Department’s national security head John Carlin said it’s not aiming to be “alarmist” about new connected technologies, but rather that their security vulnerabilities must be explored, suggesting that things like self-driving cars could pose serious public safety risks if hacked.
It’s a reflection of concerns previously raised by digital security experts, but it’s also an expansion: Such warnings usually concern potential breaches against sensitive data, or serious privacy violations, but the idea of hacks turning devices into physical dangers is relatively unexplored. As Reuters notes, proponents of self-driving cars note that they could reduce accidents and related fatalities; but Carlin asserted that the “internet on wheels” will present serious national security risks, and last year Fiat Chrysler recalled 1.4 million vehicles in the US over concerns about their software system’s potential vulnerability to hacking.
Right now, the research team comprises only a handful security experts, but as it seeks to partner with other agencies and deepen its investigation—and as the IoT continues to come into bloom—it’s fair to expect it to grow considerably.