Artificial Intelligence (AI) has many benefits – a home with smart technology can reduce energy use; AI can help predict disasters, such as the path of wildfires; and enhances automation, making for more streamlined manufacturing. However, AI can also be used for malicious activity, particularly as hackers use the technology to commit bigger and more efficient attacks.
Derek Manky describes why AI is so appealing to cyber criminals in his article “Delving into the Weaponization of AI” for InfoSecurity Magazine.
One of the greatest appeals of AI for use in cyber attacks is financial, says Manky. They have to spend time and resources to identify and capitalize on security vulnerabilities. AI provides efficiency and effectiveness for both good and bad actors alike.
“Using AI and ML enables cyber-criminals to create malware that can self-seek for vulnerabilities and then autonomously determine which payloads will be the most successful without exposing itself,” says Manky.
Likewise, faster network speeds benefit both sides. Networks using 5G, for example, means the speed of communication between devices is much greater. This can lead to swarm attacks, says Manky. Swarm attacks involve “swarms” of intelligent bots that both pass information back and forth and learn from each other as the attack occurs.
“When you incorporate AI into a network of connected devices that can communicate at 5G speeds,” says Manky, “you create a scenario where those devices can not only launch an attack on their own, but customize that attack at digital speeds based on what it learns during the attack process.”
What can be learned from the malicious use of AI is that preparedness is key. Cyber security experts need to ensure that they are on top of the latest developments in the industry, and that the organizations they serve are as secure as possible.
“This… includes having proper security architectures and segmentation in place to reduce a company’s attack surface and prevent hackers from gaining access to the wider system,” says Manky.
He also encourages collaboration whenever possible. It’s important that threat intelligence is shared – both across a company and more globally. This includes ensuring protection for everything from physical servers to cloud storage. Manky also recommends testing your own system by deploying “decoys” to draw in hackers and identify them before they gain access to real data.
Ultimately, Manky emphasizes that the using AI for cyber crime is a real and persistent threat that is unlikely to go away. Cyber security experts need to ensure that they are using AI to their benefit while ensuring they are aware of the potential AI-driven cyber threats that could bring their systems down.
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