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The CIA Fears the Internet of Things

By Defense One

July 30, 2014

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Speaking as part of the "Future of Warfare" panel at the recent Aspen Security Forum, Dawn Meyerriecks, deputy director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) directorate of science and technology, discussed the agency's position on emerging technological concepts such as big data and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Meyerriecks said the CIA cannot afford to be caught unaware by changing technology and is particularly concerned about the unintended security implications of the IoT. Meyerriecks pointed to documented cases of Internet-connected, embedded appliances already being turned to malicious purposes: a distributed denial-of-service attack launched using smart refrigerators and a massive 2013 spam attack that involved some 100,000 Internet-connected devices. "The merger of physical and virtual is really where it's at," she said. "If we don't grok that then we've got huge problems."

The potential security implications of connected health devices are especially worrying to Meyerriecks, who called the potential transparency and workplace problems something "I don't want to have to deal with."

She also said the CIA has big plans for big data analytics, in particular the creation of highly-targeted data collection efforts that would eliminate the need for today's clumsy mass surveillance efforts.

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