The spotlight is on cyber-security again, following claims Apple and Amazon had their hardware corrupted by secret Chinese spy chips.
Bloomberg had tongues wagging over a report claiming the two tech giants had been compromised by a secret spying chip, smaller than a grain of rice, during manufacture.
Apple and Amazon have denied it happened but a Perth-based security firm says it’s a timely reminder of the risks we take when using everyday tech devices to access online banking and trade crypto.
“I think the spy chip story from Bloomberg is great because people are aware that maybe we shouldn’t just trust the machines that we’re working with,” Graeme Speak, CEO of online security firm BankVault, said.
Speak says even if the reports are true, there are much bigger threats to be aware of.
“It’s far more likely that you could have a BIOS Hack, which is a hack in the firmware,” he said.
What’s even more alarming is that these days, you probably won’t even be aware you’ve been hacked.
“I could hack your computer clicking on an invoice you’ve sent or perhaps a Facebook ad. And can now socially engineer you to trick you to give me your banking fob and things like this,” Speak said.
The consequences are costly.
“2016 it was five hundred billion dollars worldwide, it’s estimated next year to be two trillion dollars,” he said.
It begs the question, is blockchain technology the way to protect your devices from being hacked. The short answer is no but it’s not really that simple.
“Blockchain technology cannot stop hackers, blockchain itself is not going to be directly hacked, it’s not the blockchain, it’s where you store your keys,” Speak said.
But there is a way around hackers when it comes to bank transactions and crypto trading. BankVault has created remote isolation technology that can keep your assets secure.
It works like this: A user goes online to complete a transaction and a cloud – which acts as an invisible bank vault – is temporarily created for the transaction using a smartphone as an invisible keyboard to eliminate any trace from keyloggers or browser spyware.
When the transaction is finished the cloud disappears.
“So whatever you’re doing, you’re secure, you’re anonymous, untraceable from the hackers that are on your device,” Speak said.
Despite technology like his, Speak says the cost of cybercrime is only going to go up exponentially.
According to the cyber-security expert, that’s because not enough is being invested in technology to combat hacking.
“It’s not keeping pace, the hackers are winning,” he said.