Evil digital twins and other risks: the use of twins opens up a host of new security concerns

The use of digital twins (virtual representations of real or imagined real-world objects) is growing. Their uses are manifold and they can be incredibly useful, providing real-time models of physical assets or even people or biological systems that can help identify problems as they occur or even before.

Grand View Research has predicted that the global digital twin market, valued at $11.1 billion in 2022, will grow at a CAGR of 37.5% from 2023 to 2030 to reach $155.83 billion.

But as companies increase their use of digital twins and others create new ones, experts say organizations are also increasing their cybersecurity exposure. Because digital twins rely on data to create an accurate representation of what they model, they are vulnerable. What if that data gets corrupted or, much worse, stolen and used for evil instead of its intended purpose?

“Here we have another tool, and it can be beneficial, but it still needs to be hardened, it still needs to be cyber-secured, the internet connection needs to be secured and the data needs to be protected,” says Brian. Bothwell, director of the US Government Accountability Office’s Science, Technology and Analysis (STAA) team and author of a February 2023 GOA report on digital twins.

Digital twins are vulnerable to threats and need to be protected

Technology experts and security leaders say digital twins can be just as vulnerable to existing threats as conventional information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) environments. Some say digital twins could not only create new entry points for these types of attacks, but could also present opportunities for new types of attack, including what one security expert described as the “twin evil digital.”

“There are a lot of opportunities for cyber security and potential hacker infiltration in this type of technology,” says Bothwell.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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As digital twins become more prevalent, it has become inevitable that we acknowledge the risks that accompany this technology. From malicious actors to data security flaws, the use of digital twins can open up a host of new security concerns that must be addressed. Companies such as Ikaroa have a responsibility to consider the safety of their user data when developing any new technology.

In basic terms, a digital twin is a virtual replica of a physical piece of technology. It is used to capture and analyze the data generated by a physical device, allowing the user to make changes or observations in the digital world and implement them in the real world. As a result, these digital twins open up vast amounts of data and information, making them a valuable target for malicious activities.

The threat of a digital twin being hacked is also a real issue. Hackers can potentially gain access to a user’s personal data, rendering the digital twin useless and potentially putting the user’s data at risk. Additionally, there is the risk of a malicious actor using a digital twin to cause physical harm or damage to the system that is being replicated.

The potential for data theft is another serious concern. Digital twins can store a large amount of data that is difficult to password protect and is accessible to anyone with the right skills. This could potentially lead to the theft of valuable data and other personal information.

Furthermore, the use of digital twins inherently introduces a layer of complexity, as the technology requires multiple data points to be analyzed at once. This means more possibilities for errors and added difficulties in securing the data associated with the digital twins.

Ikaroa is making a commitment to user safety and privacy by exploring the security issues associated with digital twins and working to ensure the safety of their users in the digital world. To this end, they are also committed to continued research and development in the areas of digital twins and security, offering solutions that ensure the safety of both user data and the physical devices being replicated.

In order for digital twins to work properly, companies like Ikaroa must ensure that the technology is properly secured. This will require a comprehensive assessment of the risks associated with the technology and a plan for mitigating those risks in order to ensure the safety of the user data and physical systems being replicated.


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