Two technological developments have captured the public eye recently. Both involve robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) and both have far reaching consequences if organisations do not take cyber security seriously.
The first is the coming of the self-driving car and the second is the growth of AI to serve business administration, with automated assistants replacing front-line staff.
Trials are now going on all over the world of self-driving cars and Tesla's can already be bought with an 'autopilot' monitored cruising mode. The focus is unsurprisingly on the safety of the occupants and other road users, particularly after the review of a crash involving a Tesla was published recently.
The car was on autopilot mode when it ploughed into the side of a large truck in Florida, killing the driver. Although the review absolved the car and its software, the crash is so far unexplained.
Autopilot mode is an intelligent cruise function and drivers are meant to keep their hands on the wheel and be ready to take over at any time. For reasons unknown, the driver didn't do that.
However, the large-scale benefits of self-driven cars are expected to be delivered by reduced congestion, because AI-driven vehicles will be able to communicate with each other and therefore drastically reduce the distances between them.
This, of course, means wireless connections between vehicles and researchers have already demonstrated that wireless-enabled cars can be taken over and controlled if cyber security isn't given due attention. Chrysler had to recall and re-engineer 1.4 million cars after hackers paralysed a Cherokee on a highway while it was being driven by a WIRED magazine reporter.
The second story gaining media attention is the rise of AI-enabled programs that will take over basic interaction between businesses and customers or suppliers.
Although the media refer to these programs as robots, they usually reside on servers and communicate over phone lines, social media or online chat sessions, so they do not have a form as such.
The stories mainly centre around the vulnerability of certain jobs being taken over. Initially, though, they will take away the repetitive humdrum work, allowing skilled workers to focus on the work that actually requires their skill and attention, so job satisfaction will increase.
But there doesn't seem to be much in the media about the potential vulnerability of AI-enabled server-side programs that have access to personal data and the internet.
There have been high-profile incidents of hacking in the UK at companies such as Wonga, Three Mobile, Sports Direct and Tesco Bank and those are just the ones that we know about. As cyber security professionals know, increasing complexity also increases the points where attack is possible.
Demand for top cyber security skills
It's clear that, as organisations without a tech background have to embrace hardware and software, cyber security needs to be at the heart of projects from the beginning, not an after-thought.
This should lead to more opportunities for high-quality cyber security professionals, with more rewarding roles at the heart of product development. The best will be highly sought after.