Picture the scene: it’s the end of the decade. You live in a world where technology has become even more embedded into the fabric of society than it is today. You consume personalized content delivered to a headset or beamed directly onto your eyeball thanks to specially designed contact lenses. Everything in this brave new world happens online. Your whole view of life is filtered through this augmented reality layer: you shop online, vote online, socialize and communicate online and even consume government services online.
Now imagine what happens when cyber criminals attack, and this digital world begins suddenly and uncontrollably to unravel.
You’ve just imagined 2020 the Series: a visionary web video project from Trend Micro designed to get people thinking about where cyber threats may be headed in the future, and how we can all take steps to mitigate the risks.
Most of us live so relentlessly in the present that we don’t have the time or inclination to think about what might be. At Trend Micro we make it our business to anticipate the latest cybercrime trends and spot emerging developments in the threat landscape – it helps to shape our research and development and build products that fully protect our customers.
We’ve been doing this for 25 years and the key to staying on terms with the bad guys is to never stand still – to keep evolving. That’s why we wanted to broaden the debate about our cyber future beyond the narrow confines of the information security industry to reach as many people as possible through this series of nine web videos.
The action takes place in the technologically advanced nation of South Sylvania, where internet services are an intrinsic part of life for everyone. So much so, in fact, that people maintain multiple online profiles, authenticating and switching between each via a centralized hub known as The Switch.
On the eve of the country’s first fully digital elections, this hub has been take down by a massive cyber-attack designed to steal personal data on the nation’s voting population. Without access to The Switch people are helpless, unable to buy food or supplies, receive healthcare, or even work. With the country in chaos and critical infrastructure offline, casualties mount and politicians demand answers.
In Episode 4, crowds gather outside their offices, worried about their jobs. With The Switch down no-one can work from home, as most people do in 2020, and there’s simply not enough room for them to work at their brick and mortar headquarters. It emerges that the cyber-attack on The Switch was highly sophisticated, creating a Stuxnet-like physical reaction among key servers, which overheated, triggering preventative shut downs which effectively caused a denial of service situation.
Elsewhere, police interrogating suspect Kinuko, a twenty-something programmer who had access to The Switch, make a surprising discovery.
Trend Micro’s innovative web video series is based on Project 2020, a white paper produced by Trend and Europol for the International Cyber Security Protection Alliance (ICSPA). The aim was to make the themes and ideas in that report available to the general public in a more accessible and compelling format.
Trend Micro is certainly not predicting a definitive future for us all here; we can’t provide all the answers yet. However, we’re hoping at least to raise some interesting questions and get people talking and thinking more about life in 2020, and what dangers we might encounter there.
2020 the Series raises interesting questions about the possible evolution of the so-called “internet of everything.” As our world becomes more interconnected, and we come to rely on services founded on machine-to-machines communications, society itself becomes more precarious, more exposed to blackmail and disruption if the bad guys find a way to subvert such systems. As users increasingly switch between public and private networks, and various connected devices, it becomes ever more important that security moves with the user, and that data and privacy is protected at the intersect between these networks, where vulnerabilities often occur.
If you’re interested in joining the debate about our cyber future, click through to watch the latest short video in our nine episode series and catch up on the story so far.