The paranoia trap
What might future malware attacks look like? Forget stealing your data, or locking up your computers until you pay a bitcoin ransom, a new experiment has shown just how much we’ll all have to be on the lookout for distorted reality in the future.
Security researchers in Israel have hacked cancer screening equipment to hide real tumors and insert entirely fake ones.
“Even when the radiologists were made aware that the scans were being altered, they still struggled to make a correct diagnosis. When they were given a second set of images with a warning that some had been changed, the medical professionals were still tricked into thinking computer-generated nodules were real 60 percent of the time.
"When the malware was used to remove nodules, 87 percent of the readings incorrectly determined the patient was healthy. The humans put through the test shouldn’t feel too bad, though—screening software used to confirm diagnoses fell for the malware’s tricks every single time.”
This was only a research demonstration, but it shows just how sophisticated future malware from determined attackers could be.
Security software is going to have to become more sophisticated, but we as individuals are going to have to be more sophisticated too. And I don’t know how we do that without becoming paranoid conspiracy theorists who trust nothing. If you look at certain quarters on social media, some of us have already got there. And that that’s exactly what some of the people peddling misinformation want.
The future is certainly going to be an information verification nightmare.