With the way the world is right now, it's hard not to feel a little uneasy about what sort of catastrophic deeds cyber terrorists are capable of. Sure, there are some who masquerade as the Robin Hoods of the Dark Web, but there are plenty more less well-meaning whiz-kids with keyboards willing to do lots of harm. So, not to freak you out or anything, but here are 12 systems modern-day hackers can easily mess with.
Your web cam is great for catching up with long-distance friends, and for monitoring bizarrely entertaining live streams like the Las Vegas wedding chapel. However, if you knew how easily creeps can remotely turn them on and watch you pick your nose, they seem a lot more sinister. But it happens, kind of often. If you're feeling paranoid you can tape up the little dot at the top of your laptop screen.
Ever heard of the Iridium satellite network? It's a series of low-orbit satellites launched in the '90s to provide voice, data, and other communications for satellite phones and transceivers built into everything from commercial aircraft to civilian autos. And thanks to what amounts to almost zero security precautions, hackers can easily tap into, decode, and eavesdrop on any and all traffic that passes through them.
We’ve all sat at empty intersections, wishing we could just push a button and change an infuriatingly long red light. But they're for our safety, so luckily we can’t switch things up just because we're 30 minutes late to "Netflix and chill" with "bae." Unluckily, it turns out that rigging up a system just like that is surprisingly easy.
Home security systems
Even though your home alarm isn't connected to the Internet, potential thieves could easily employ a couple of shiesty methods to either suppress it or set off so many false ones as a diversion that they slip in undetected.
If you enjoy daydreaming about doomsday scenarios, consider this: nuclear power plants around the US and Canada (as well as the power grid itself) are vulnerable to serious attacks from hackers who could crash their servers, and screw with the regulatory systems that keep the reactors from malfunctioning and melting down.
Airport body scanners
Having to deal with the exceptionally unpleasant TSA every time you pass through airport security is bad enough, but guess what, it gets worse! Those body scanners that virtually strip you naked? Their imaging systems can be easily hacked, and your birthday suit could be distributed all across the Interwebs. Seriously, it happens.
Pacemakers and other implanted medical devices like insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors rely on wireless remote-controllability, making them fairly easy targets for someone with malicious intentions. That’s exactly why Dick Cheney’s cardiologist disabled the wireless functionality in his in 2007.
Most handguns thankfully don’t come with built-in software, but hyper-specialized weaponry like sniper rifles are equipped with advanced on-board computers designed to assist even the most amateur shooters with hitting their target. That feature can make a huge difference in a military scenario, but it also opens up the possibility for hackers to compromise the system, or even prevent the gun from firing altogether, as a pair of security researchers recently discovered.
Nervous fliers, you may want to skip ahead. In a worrying admission, the US Government Accountability Office said that the country's current air-traffic control system is very much vulnerable to outside hackers. More specifically, they could interfere with communications between pilots and ground, providing false commands that can put aircraft dangerously off course. On the bright-ish side, it seems as though claims that passengers could potentially re-route a plane by hacking the in-flight entertainment system have been debunked by experts.
If you're desperately wanting to make it rain but can't track down the sawbucks necessary to make it look legit, have you considered hacking an ATM to spit out free money? We're not suggesting you break the law and steal money that's not yours, we're just saying it's a fairly simple trick that involves nothing more than a special button sequence and some insider knowledge.
In news that will excite all incarcerated prisoners and terrify most everyone else, it turns out that the Feds are pretty concerned that hackers could easily access maximum-security computer systems and liberate the inmates by remotely opening cell doors.
Now that most new cars are tricked out with a whole slew of connectivity features, from Bluetooth to Wi-Fi, it’s increasingly possible for people with the right tools to take over your ride’s vital operations from miles away. If they want, they’d be able to disable the brakes or mess with acceleration. If you’re curious, there’s a list of new cars ranked by how hackable they are, which may have you reconsidering leasing that ’15 Escalade.