“Internet of Things” Makes Us Vulnerable to Cyber-attack – Imperial Expert

We must look to supercomputing to protect our privacy and security in an ever more connected world, says Professor Nick Jennings.

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Imperial’s Vice Provost (Research) said that sophisticated cyber-security is “central” to making sure society can make the most of digital technologies.

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Professor Nick Jennings, speaking at the event

Professor Jennings was speaking at anevent exploring the future of High Performance Computing (HPC)organised by Imperial Tech Foresight. Industry experts, policy-makers, entrepreneurs and researchers gathered to explore the potential applications of HPC and the potential shift from niche uses to broader adoption.

Cyber-attacks attacks are becoming increasingly difficult to guard against as more of our systems become connected, said Professor Jennings.

Critical infrastructure

More and more individuals are using connected devices like wearable fitness trackers, digital personal assistants, and smart meters in the home.

“The issue with many of these devices is that not a lot of effort goes into the security of them, so often they leak information”, he said.

internet of thingsCyber-attacks on these devices can have significant consequences, he explained. A smart meter, for instance, can indicate your house is unoccupied. A connected home security network could open your door to intruders.

It’s not just personal devices that are at risk. “Key elements of our critical national infrastructure are increasingly being networked as well”, he said. These include the stock market, utilities such as power grids and water supplies, and transportation – including cars.

“These are being connected for good reasons”, he explained, but makes them vulnerable to attack, as attackers can hop easily from one system to another.

A HPC solution?

High Performance Computing (HPC) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help us to protect ourselves from these constantly evolving threats, he said. AI recognises patters, so can determine what is normal for a user or network, recognising events or interactions which fall outside these. It can also work in partnership with humans to analyse risks and respond to them, he said. HPC provides the power to facilitate this, allowing for the processing of huge amounts of data.

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Current and Future Applications of HPC: By Richard Watson and Imperial Tech Foresight

Also speaking at the HPC Tech Foresight event were computer scientist Dr Gerard Gorman, from the Department of Earth Science and Engineering, and Dr Katharina Hauck, Lecturer in Health Economics from the School of Public Health.

Dr Gorman explained discussed the promise of big data, and how machine learning can enable the development of software that can write software, allowing designers and engineers create ideas that can be quickly translated into models.

Dr Huack outlined how supercomputing allows for large-scale data analysis, equipping policy-makers to better allocate funds to improve population health across the world.

Professor Jennings, Dr Gorman and Dr Huack also spoke about the future of HPC at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year.