Data Protection & Privacy
The technological systems of Industry 4.0 offer the world unprecedented social and economic benefits. Co-existent with such possibilities is exploitation of these systems by terrorists. The private sector faces the legal imperative to install risk management measures to address the vulnerability of Industry 4.0 processes to terrorist attacks.
Industry 4.0 will generate far reaching transborder impacts within economic, industrial, societal and security landscapes. From the three previous Industrial Revolutions, it can be seen that rapid development of sophisticated digitalisation and automation mechanisms of Industry 4.0 will profoundly alter human existence in both advantageous and detrimental ways. Recognition of Industry 4.0 processes as radical agents of change was made by the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, Professor Klaus Schwab. Schwab identified key technological drivers of Industry 4.0, including mobile super-computing, robots, machine learning, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, 3D Blockchain manufacturing and advanced data analysis. He predicted the superseding of current digital systems to an extent in scale, scope and complexity, “unlike anything humankind has experienced''. Concurrent with this increasingly digitalised world is the susceptibility of its system to interception by terrorists to enact destructive objectives. It is imperative for the private sector users of Industry 4.0 tools to enact a risk management approach to security and anti-terrorism risks.
The nexus of Industry 4.0 and terrorism derives from the emergent vulnerabilities of the digital integration of IT systems, processes and data flows through networks intended to facilitate production of highly customised products. Cyber-physical systems, powered by cloud computing, the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence (AI) offer both legitimate users and terrorists, speed of access to information. Intrinsic to Industry 4.0 is comprehensive integration and interaction of the virtual and physical worlds. This enables terrorists to access sensitive data and to divert operation of industrial, technological and societal logistics to suit their agendas, just as the Internet is changing industry, the Internet is changing terrorism”. The tools of Industry 4.0 have led to a proliferation of channels for terrorist activity.
Concurrent with the evolution of industry and technology is the escalation of the potential for terrorists to initiate attacks upon their targets. The European Union formulated a legal definition of terrorist offences, which included, “seriously socio-economic destabilisation or destruction of fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organisation”. Execution of these offences will increasingly utilise the processes the underpin Industry 4.0. The Industry 4.0 era has given rise to ‘Terrorism 4.0’. Misuse of digitisation can create catastrophic consequences in the physical world. Whilst the digitalisation and automation systems offer substantial advancement in industrial, manufacturing and economic spheres, they are accompanied by susceptibility to potential social dangers. The diversity of these threats includes breaches of cities’ computerised transport systems, crippling of energy grids and seizure of control of super computers by terrorist groups.
The potential for manipulation of the tools of Industry 4.0 is evident in current developments in AI. According to Harry Armstrong, Senior Researcher of Technology Futures, at the UK Innovation Foundation, AI is a ‘game changer’ through its use of machine learning to supplement existing decision-making systems. In AI methodology, algorithms can be ‘retrained’ to facilitate fastest and smartest possible processing of data applicable to business, human services and conversely, terrorist agendas. Terrorists have the potential to manipulate devices that operate through image recognition or radio frequency identification and therefore do not require any physical contact. This allows terrorists to remotely control machinery, vehicles and defence systems. Intervention in technological processes for military and intelligence purposes can enable terrorists to use AI to access information about potential targets and to identify vulnerabilities to generate hacks through pattern recognition algorithms to trick computers. AI can be weaponised by terrorists in the analysis of satellite and radar data to control missiles and drones.
Within Industry 4.0, the blockchain network offers data storage and exchange solutions that interrelate virtual and physical world. Permissioned blockchain networks are susceptible to subversion as information is available to all within the network, which provides data not encrypted by default. Participants in the network, whether they are legitimate users or terrorists, can use algorithms to analyse transactions. Development of the use of 3D printing to create customised products in these transactions is an area of vulnerability to be exploited by terrorists. Doctor Ian Oppermann, Chief Data Scientist, at the NSW Data Analytics Centre, Sydney, envisages a future use of blockchain in which sophisticated 3D-printers will be used by governments to create Defence Force infrastructure such as navy submarines. The submarines could be designed in Europe, then the plans would be sent in digital file to Australia. The submarine parts would be printed out in centres such as the former South Australian submarine construction facilities and the blockchain network could be used to validate, contract and automate payment. The reality would be that the submarine plans would exist in a cyber world until 3D printing was completed and physical assemblage of the components occurred. In the structure of the blockchain network, the capability of terrorists to access and manipulate the plans originates in the digital phase.
In addressing the potential for terrorists to weaponise Industry 4.0 processes, there needs to be prioritisation of regulation designed to obstruct terrorists’ appropriation of digital technologies. Commensurate with the rise in digitalisation and automation in manufacturing, there needs to be ongoing development of a cohesive regime of occupational security laws that address security and terrorism threats within the structures of work place safety. Due to the proliferation of workplace decisions being made offshore using AI, there is a heightening of the risk of cyber security attacks and other threats. The Australian government has identified the dependence of critical infrastructure upon supply chains, information technologies and communication networks. These systems are vulnerable to destruction or disablement by terrorists which could inflict crippling harm to Australia’s social organisation, the economy, defence and security.
The strong need for government advocacy for businesses and industries to formulate a security risk management approach is emerging in response to the nexus of Industry 4.0 systems and terrorist intervention. The implementation of security management plans is particularly urgent for businesses involved in transport, vital infrastructure development and management of major hazard facilities. Potential terrorist infiltration of Industry 4.0 systems compels the necessity of a unified regime of occupational security and anti-terrorism laws that direct the private sector to plan for the probability, scope and impacts of a terrorist attack.
With thanks to Alexia Psaltis for her assistance with this article.
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