01.CSIRO's possible Skynet future
By 2025 the CSIRO predicts Australia’s healthcare, energy and government sectors will have leveraged technology to cut costs but our cyber security will lag behind leaving us exposed to regular data breaches from script kiddies, hacktivists and organised crime among others.
And in a scenario resonant of the fictional defence network Skynet from the Terminator movies, the technology developed to defend these breaches will be turned on its head and refined for new attacks.
In the report “Enabling Australia’s Digital Future”, the CSIRO outlines a trio of hypothetical future scenarios. A disgruntled electricity contractor remotely manipulates data to cause major power losses and failures across the grid resulting in public transport and traffic chaos. Trusted healthcare practitioners manipulate data to improve performance statistics or commit financial fraud. And an activist group claims to have stolen large volumes of citizen data from government systems, but the government switches off its online services, suspecting a nation state or organised crime might be the real culprit.
Perhaps most disturbingly however, all of these scenarios are anchored in past events, with the report citing an attacker using expert knowledge to remotely manipulate data causing 800,000 litres of raw sewage to spill into local parks and rivers in Queensland in 2000. A New Zealand health practitioner charged fraudulent claims worth $140,000 to a health board for repeat prescriptions for patients, some of whom were deceased. And hacktivists targeted the Australian Parliament House website in 2010 protesting internet filtering and the ASIO website was taken down temporarily in 2013 after an attack.