Newer cars, USB drives and in-flight Internet are among the looming dangers cited for information and physical security at the recent 17th annual Black Hat Conference. It’s the world’s premier global information security event and one I follow closely.

Black Hat Conference security experts want you to know that cybercriminals will continue to be a dangerous threat as they steal our personally identifiable information to open accounts fraudulently, use medical services, or break into our homes and more.

Because the Black Hat Conference includes top experts, law enforcement and even reformed hackers, the quality and timeliness of presentations are remarkable on topics such as information security, identity theft, personal privacy, hacking, malware, and reverse engineering. The goal is to reveal and discuss new threats and research in the field of cybersecurity.

Among the most-talked-about topics:

• How secure is your automobile? Today’s autos use numerous on-board computers that control a variety of functions such as your acceleration, Bluetooth, braking, global positioning system and steering. Security experts at the conference showed how today’s car has the potential to be hacked. Examples include cybercriminals remotely hacking into your car and eavesdropping on your private conversations. In some cases, hackers could affect and control your global positioning system, keyless entry, steering wheel and brakes.

• How about the USB drives that we all use? Security experts identified a new threat, named BadUSB, that “could infiltrate your network using common USB devices” and with an attack approach, “affect just about everything USB-related, including your computer with USB ports.”

• Home security systems and hotel doors can be remotely hacked into from across the street — or thousands of miles away.

• Another potential vulnerability cited in a presentation is how commercial airlines and their wireless Internet and entertainment systems can be compromised. However, the researcher acknowledged that the opportunities and risks are very low at this time.

We need to be aware that cybercriminals no longer spend their time and focus on financial institutions as the only lucrative target. Any organization, from a small business to global conglomerates or nonprofits — including health care, social media, transportation, and utilities — are new and emerging targets if they are connected to the Internet.

While the annual Black Hat conference is a great source of education in assessing current and future information security threats and risks, consumers and businesses should not greet the knowledge with fear. I recommend that you take this knowledge to fuel a heightened awareness with today’s technology and be prepared to prevent and protect for future ID-related security issues.

Mark’s most important: The world’s top cyber experts are doing all they can to stop the rate of ID theft, but each of us must do our part to know what the ever-changing threats are and how we can reduce them.

What’s your biggest ID theft fear? Send a brief e-mail describing what your top ID theft concerns are and why. Answers will be given in future columns.

Mark Pribish is vice president and ID-theft practice leader at Merchants Information Solutions Inc., a national ID-theft and background-screening provider based in Phoenix. Reach him at

This article was originally published on and republished with the author’s permission.