If there’s one perpetual truth about technology and communications, it’s that no matter how primitive or sophisticated the system, someone will find a way to exploit it. In the 1950s, people “hacked” the country’s network of landline telephones to make free calls. Decades later, we’re still often at the mercy of hackers who are able to navigate complex innovations for fraudulent purposes. Mental Floss has partnered with Discover to take a look into the future and identify some of the new ways we might become vulnerable to hacking, as well as the ways cutting-edge technology can help us remain secure.
1. Hackers will use our eyes to deceive us.
Security systems are making more use of biometrics to identify users (think of using a fingerprint scanner in lieu of a password). While it may seem impossible to duplicate an individual’s unique biological traits, that might not be what hackers will be looking to do. Instead, criminals could utilize hardware or software skimmers that intercept these credentials, capturing them and using them for their own gain in the same way they can modify ATM machines to grab credit card information. That’s why we’ll likely see more credentials stored on local devices rather than transmitted.
2. Hackers might be able to breach your data by touch alone.
Don’t think a hacker needs a computer and an internet connection to take an invasive look at your data. At some point, chips implanted under the criminal’s skin might be able to prompt a phone to open a link—possibly under the guise of a security update—that could lead to a malicious site. All a hacker would have to do is be near the device or hold the device in their hand. If this threat increases, we could see a rise in the use of blockers that protect devices from being compromised. Your purse or wallet, for example, would be shielded from such attacks.
3. Hackers might join your email conversations.
Many of us laugh at the clunky, transparent email attempts to lure us into malicious website links, and email services do a good job of diverting suspicious correspondence to a junk folder. But hackers may one day be able to mimic legitimate exchanges so well that they can drop a message in the middle of an existing email thread. Because it will blend seamlessly into the dialogue, the danger of giving up confidential information will grow exponentially—which is why it’s important to never share sensitive information via email, no matter who you’re communicating with.
4. Hackers might take over our assistance robots.
Today, smart homes are all about voice recognition and app-controlled environmental regulation: Think about asking your television to change the channel or telling your thermostat to warm up the living room before you get home. But as we move into an era of locomoting robots that provide home assistance—cleaning, dispensing information, or surveillance—consider that hackers could hijack their sensory inputs to eavesdrop on sensitive conversations and relate personal information. Consumers will likely need to be proactive by turning off information-gathering options that are on devices and staying on top of possible breaches reported in media.
5. They’ll use your computer to do their dirty work for them.
Not all financially-motivated hacking is devoted to separating you from your money. Sometimes, hackers just want your computing power. Cryptojacking is expected to rise in the coming years, with criminals luring people to websites that allow them to harvest your computing power to generate, or “mine,” cryptocurrency (which it does by solving complex math problems). While you may not suffer as a direct result, it’s still a pretty egregious use of your property to pursue a criminal act—and you’re not likely to even notice. Never click on suspicious links and make sure anti-spyware software is up to date.
Even if some of these tactics seem like science fiction, hacking still poses a threat to your financial security today, but Discover can help. With Free Social Security number alerts, Discover will monitor thousands of sites on the Dark Web and alert you if they find your Social Security number—it’s free for cardmembers who sign up. Learn more at Discover.