The desert sands of Las Vegas recently hosted the world’s largest consumer electronics show, CES2023. Each year, typically during the first or second week of January, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® brings the consumer electronics industry together for a massive trade show.
To say CES2023 was a big show is an understatement. With nearly 2.2 million square feet of exhibit space, CES2023 took up a sizeable chunk of Las Vegas’s convention space. There were over 115,000 attendees representing 140 countries. In addition to over 3,200 exhibitors, the show held 200 conference sessions on topics ranging from cybersecurity to blockchain technology.
Standouts from the show included color-changing cars, satellite integration for Android phones, robots that could draw the person sitting in front of them, new drones, and many more unique and sometimes puzzling innovations.
The Growing Threat of Cybercrime in 2023
With such a significant event, the diversity of products and presentations represented a rich tapestry of everything related to electronics. While some focus areas were specific to certain niche industries, other subject matter had exposure to many corners of the consumer electronics world. Two of particular interest this year were cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
As professionals in the communications space, we understand the importance of interoperability and security in our transmissions. This is particularly true for military and first responder operations. While possessing an understanding is essential, without action, this knowledge does little to counter the significant threats of cybercriminals and terrorists.
The global cost of cybercrime in 2023 is predicted to exceed $8 trillion. As the world becomes more connected through technology, the potential payoff for criminals is too much for them to ignore. Cybercrimes take place all over the world and are increasing.
Some of the most concerning threats include ransomware attacks, Internet of Things (IoT) security, cloud security, AI and machine learning (ML) security, supply chain security, data privacy, and attacks by Nation-states.
- Ransomware Attacks: This threat comes in the form of malicious software (malware) that encrypts a victim’s files. The attacker essentially holds the victim’s files or system hostage until they are paid to release them.
- IoT Attacks: Smart devices are in our places of work and our homes. While these gadgets make our life easier and more efficient, many are vulnerable to hackers. The lack of basic security features on some IoT devices makes them a prime target for criminals.
- Cloud Security: Data, especially in the business world, continues to move out of physical storage and onto cloud platforms. Data is vulnerable while being transferred to the cloud and in cloud-based storage facilities.
- AI and ML: As AI and ML programs become more advanced, the technology is being integrated into a greater number of products and services. Like the IoT, criminals know many systems lack robust security methods to prevent attacks. AI and ML can open a door for attackers to exploit.
- Supply Chain Security: Systems that were once immune to cybercriminals when they were not computer-based, like utility companies, are seeing increased cybersecurity issues. Manual processes are becoming more integrated with computers, which means they can be attacked.
- Data Privacy: The amount of data collected and stored daily continues to rise. Everything from biometrics to our credit card numbers are vulnerable. Hackers can find holes in the systems meant to protect our data and have access to some of our most private information.
- Nation-state Attacks: Attacks by government-supported cybercriminals continue to rise. The method has proven to be an effective way of attacking adversaries. The sophistication of these attacks makes them challenging to detect and defend against.
Cybersecurity Landscape: Industry Leaders to Watch
As we can see, threats come in many forms, and CES2023 hosted over 80 companies in the cybersecurity space working to mitigate these threats. Some of the largest in the space included Norton, Accenture, CrowdStrike, and Microsoft.
Some companies, like Norton, provide solutions that protect an otherwise vulnerable system from damage as it is being attacked. Others, like CrowdStrike, approach the problem from the other end and study trends that show when and how criminals will attack a system, thus preventing the attack from happening. These two different approaches to the same problem all help to mitigate the threats we face everyday.
In addition to exhibitors, one of the best aspects of CES are the numerous panels and discussions from industry leaders and noted experts in the field. Cybersecurity was a topic touched on at many panels, but perhaps the most interesting was the discussion titled, Great Minds: How to Build a New Cybersecurity Era.
The discussion focused on the critical role cybersecurity plays in ensuring human security. As the threat landscape continues to evolve, more significant risks will materialize for individuals, organizations, and governments. Rajeev Chand Partner and Head of Research at Wing Venture Capital, moderated the session.
The panel members were Jen Easterly and George Kurtz. Mrs. Easterly is the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). She is a former Army officer and was previously the head of Morgan Stanley’s cybersecurity division. Mr. Kurtz is the CEO of CrowdStrike, one of the most respected cybersecurity firms in the world.
The discussion began with a somewhat gloomy but realistic conversation of what to expect in the next ten years. The general consensus was that cybersecurity threats would continue to get worse. As Mr. Kurtz put it, “there is way too much money in e-crime for it to be ignored.”
While criminals are to blame for their actions, the discussion also highlighted that addressing the threat is the responsibility of everyone. Mrs. Easterly, in particular, focused on this point. As consumers, we want technology to advance rapidly, and we accept that this often means our new advances come with vulnerability to cybercrimes. A shared experience can be seen with our personal computers. Do you think twice when buying a laptop that requires constant upgrades and patches to protect itself, even in the first year of ownership?
The ABCs of Cybercrime Prevention
To prevent cybercrime, according to the Director, “we need to figure out how the products we buy will be built so the number of vulnerabilities are minimized.” It is a tall order and a shift in our collective mindset, but it makes sense. The end user must be a part of requiring the system to be secure and not relying solely on manufacturers.
In communications, for example, we now have the technology to facilitate secure transmissions of data and voice between radios, phones, and computers. If we are using the right equipment, we can protect ourselves. If we decide not to utilize technology, we open ourselves to attack. By choosing to use products that have already been engineered to be secure, we help address the cybersecurity problem.
By the end of the four days of CES2023, it was clear that cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated, and left unchecked, cybersecurity problems will only get worse. Thankfully, numerous companies and government agencies worldwide are looking to stop them. While their efforts are vital to keeping us safe, everyone is responsible for combatting cybercrime.
Overall, CES2023 was a great show. With so many exhibits, presentations, and demonstrations, it was impossible to see everything. Thankfully, there was more than enough in the cybersecurity and AI space to give attendees a better understanding of the industry’s current state. Technology has numerous advantages, but it also leaves us vulnerable. Remember to do your part by making choices in equipment and policies that keep you secure.
Have you enjoyed this article? Be sure to subscribe to our blog to catch the next one as soon as we publish!