Earlier this month I spoke at the ASIS Breakfast Meeting hosted by Honeywell on the topic of securing infrastructure in 2030, covering what infrastructure might look like by 2030, the evolution of technology and how the good guys, and the bad guys might be using it.
I’m a technologist at heart, and started life as a software engineer, remaining in the tech world for most of my career, whether it was designing solutions for clients in the UK private and public sector, building new businesses around technology solutions, or advising the Kurdistan Regional Government and leading Kurdistan’s Ministry of ICT in Iraq. Now at Restrata, my time is spent utilising technology and best practice design and implementation to protect people and assets.
As we look ahead to the next 10-15 years, we should remember that the rate of change is difficult to imagine and we will likely underestimate it. While we decide how our industry will evolve, it's important to remember the likely changes in a number of interrelated technology capabilities as well as the transformation of our infrastructure and cities.
A New World
To answer the question “what are we securing”, we first have to try and imagine the world in 2030. What will infrastructure look like in 2030, how will businesses run, what will be the priorities of people and governments, what types of transportation will be in place - the list of questions is seemingly endless.
There will still be cities, highways, railways, airports, and ports but the components of these will be communicating with each other. We’ll know more about the people within the infrastructure in real-time. There will be an increased number of sensors on infrastructure, devices and people. The Internet of Things (IOT) era is truly upon us; in 2012 the number of connected devices reached 8.7billion, surpassing the number of people in the world, it is now estimated to be at 30 billion devices and growing to an estimated 50 billion devices in 2020. That's a lot of IP addresses vulnerable to attack, and with every device added, the risk of attack increases.
This also creates a lot of data from sensors collecting information about our world, almost like a global nervous system. To lay over this, data connectivity will be cheaper and further reaching, and there will have been incredible advances in AI, Robotics, Big Data and Automation; enabling us to make sense of the world.
As I mentioned, there will be much more data available, and consequently a bigger opportunity to gain insights and act on them to better secure our built environment and infrastructure. However exploiting the data with analysis and acting on the information learned will be the key. Data alone is not enough.
A New Threat
The threat of physical attacks will never go away, but cyber is becoming increasingly attractive to criminals because it’s easier and cheaper to execute. Geography represents no hurdles with a cyber attack, with a perpetrator based on one side of the world able to breach the defences (or lack thereof) of an organisation on the opposite side of the world. Over recent years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of cyber-attacks and also the impact they have.
Kinetic attacks are always changing, and perpetrators seemingly gravitate towards the simplest and cheapest solution available for causing devastation – will we see the convergence of kinetic and cyber- attacks in the future?
By way of example, imagine if you will, a time when all cars are connected to the Internet of Things. During rush hour, a terrorist could hack the system that links these vehicles, and at random hit the emergency brake on multiple cars. This could cause traffic accidents across the country at the touch of a button.
We are already seeing pressure on businesses mounting to increase their performance and profitability, and as such, wider adoption of Industrial IoT will emerge, in turn, increasing the severity and damage caused by a potential cyber attack.
Technology to Watch
It's not all doom and gloom. As the potential for attack increases, we will also see an increase in the sophistication of our technology and how it can be applied to securing infrastructure.
Some of the key technology trends we expect to create transformation in our industry will be:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Machine Learning
- Facial Recognition
- Autonomous Vehicles
- Big Data Analytics
- Cloud Connectivity
- Mass Mobile Connectivity
- Block Chain Technology
As these trends mature their respective capabilities and the interrelation of these technologies solidify, we will be able to do thing we simply cannot imagine possible right now, fundamentally changing the way we secure people, assets and infrastructure.
This month, Apple announced that the iPhone 10 will be equipped with facial recognition. It is estimated that the accuracy of Face ID will be 1 in 1,000,000 when compared to the 1 in 50,000 of TouchID fingerprints. The TrueDepth camera uses 30,000 infrared dots harmlessly projected onto your face for depth mapping. This is held in a tiny area within the top of the phone. Technology which would only be unthinkable in the past, is now part of a phone you will buy this year. Advances in this technology will enable total coverage of recognition across an entire metropolitan area.
This is 2017 – imagine how much more accurate the technology will be in 2030. Imagine how this type of technology could be integrated into a security solution to recognize known criminals within a crowded space. Imagine if the facial recognition could go beyond simply identifying a person but when combined with machine learning, begins to recognize emotions and behaviours, identifying a likely perpetrator and even delivering the relevant automated emergency response.
How can we prepare?
At Restrata, we challenge ourselves to think ahead and we’re already doing this on existing projects. One example of this would be our work with the RTA and Etihad Rail. We had to consider infrastructure and the built environment of the future, and how the world of rail will evolve, and how this might impact the way we secure this infrastructure.
We completed a similar task a few years ago for TD2 for the UK Home Office, looking at emerging technologies and their application in aviation security. As we look back at these reports today, it's amazing how fast the pace of the possible has moved beyond our original expectations.
We recently hosted an event with du on the future of blockchain technology and how it impacts infrastructure and the future of connected cars. This type of work keeps us excited about the future, and enables us to design today, with an eye on tomorrow.
Beyond the tech, there will be other changes we can’t anticipate. What or who will we be protecting? Where will the conflict zones be? Will the goals of criminals/terrorists have changed? Will government legislation have changed fast enough? The answers to these questions will shape the development of technology and the way we integrate it into our security solutions.
Finally, technology advancement is accelerating; this applies to the bad guy and the good guy. How do we, the good guys, stay ahead?
We have prepared a white paper discussing this topic in more depth - it is available to download here: