Focus11: Technology exploits to become easier by 2016

McAfee predicts smartphones and the Cloud will become high value areas for hackers

McAfee technical sales and consulting vice president, Michael Fey.

McAfee technical sales and consulting vice president, Michael Fey.

Copying all the data from an intercepted 16GB iPhone could be done in as little as 11 minutes by the year 2016, according to forecasts by security vendor, McAfee.

Speaking at Focus11 in Las Vegas, McAfee technical sales and consulting senior vice-president, Michael Fey, said that while there haven’t been many attacks on the mobile device at present because of the long time it took to copy data from a smartphone, this was set to change with the spread of super-fast wireless standards.

“Copying an iPhone 16GB device on a 3G network now can take 11 hours, but if the hacker copied the phone’s data using a 4G network it would only take one hour,” he said.

Fey also predicted that embedded devices would be ripe for exploitation by hackers.

“Within five years, you won't need to be that bright to hack an embedded device," he said. Fey said that one factor in this is the convergence of operating systems: "If I am going to hack one device and find that vulnerability, there is a high likelihood that I'm going to use it on another device."

Fey also said hackers would look into "high value" areas such as the Cloud because there could be multiple companies storing their data in the one place. His biggest fear was that a trusted Cloud provider could be compromised.

"We employ them [Cloud providers] because they have standards and service level agreements,” he said. “But since the Cloud is such a high value target, the attacker who figures out one of these locks and picks it leads to a catastrophic security event."

He asked the audience to imagine what would happen if 500 companies had customer data stolen from a Cloud provider.

"At that point of time none of you would look to see if it was your data that was stolen, you would just assume that it was," he said.

However, while misgivings about data hosted in the Cloud would continue, he did not see its popularity going away by 2016.

“What's pushing the Cloud forward ever further is the assumption that you will have anywhere, anytime access to your data,” Fey said.

Hamish Barwick travelled to Focus11 as a guest of McAfee

Got a security tip-off? Contact Hamish Barwick at hamish_barwick at

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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