The Rise of AI Is Revolutionizing Cyber-Attacks

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The Rise of AI Is Revolutionizing Cyber-Attacks

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a revolutionary force in several fields, transforming industries and increasing efficiency. Its impact, however, is not restricted to good applications. AI has also found its way into the hands of cyber attackers, allowing them to exploit weaknesses, launch targeted attacks, and evade traditional security measures more effectively. Certainly, AI can help attackers just as easily as it can help defenders.

Marina Iantorno
Jul 11, 2023

How is AI used by attackers?

Cyber attackers that use AI may exploit system and network weaknesses with unparalleled precision. Attackers can rapidly detect holes in defenses using advanced algorithms and Machine Learning (ML), allowing them to execute targeted attacks that maximize their chances of success on their probes. Besides, AI provides cyber attackers with sophisticated capabilities for bypassing traditional security barriers. Attackers can use AI to build evasion strategies that resemble genuine user behavior, making it more difficult for security systems to discern between regular and malicious activity. This behavior makes it difficult for defenders to detect and respond against cyber-attacks led by AI.

If attackers have the correct tools, manipulating an AI system can be simple and easy. AI systems depend on the datasets used to train the models, and any minor modifications might gradually bias AI in the wrong direction. Changing input data can easily cause system failures and expose vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, cybercriminals can employ reverse engineering to obtain access to sensitive datasets used to train AI systems. Once it happens, they can do almost anything. Data is stored in many forms (values, text, image, audio) and the use of this data could contribute to malicious purposes, for instance,  deepfakes. By accessing data such as images, videos and voice, cybercriminals could create fake content to post on social media, which propagates the news rapidly, and this could create disinformation, attracting users to click on phishing links. This is a common practice nowadays. In a recent blog post, we have discussed the risk of bias in AI.

Undoubtedly, AI is very powerful, and can also be used by cyber-attackers to scope and locate weak applications, devices, and networks in order to scale their social engineering attacks. This is possible due to the capability of AI to easily detect behavioral patterns and identify personal vulnerabilities, making it simple for hackers to locate opportunities to obtain sensitive data.

Is everything lost?

Exploiting vulnerabilities, automating attack lifecycles, and evading standard security measures demonstrate the potential of AI for cyber attackers. AI holds enormous promise for defenders, assisting in threat identification, incident response, and predictive threat intelligence. Alexei Balaganski, lead analyst at KuppinerCole approaches this topic in depth, referring to the use of AI for cyber-defenders.

The landscape looks a bit hostile, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel. The rise of AI technologies is not something bad. Contrarily, AI is a major technology breakthrough. It opens an immense number of new opportunities that will make the work of cybersecurity specialists easier.

A new journey

In the light of cyber-attackers using AI to create and deploy new methods of assault against organizations, the best way to combat hostile AI programs is to utilize AI against them as well, but always having human supervision. It is important to remember that generative AI cannot be as creative as a human, and that is simply because it is a machine that uses supervised and unsupervised models to process the data and produce outcomes. In this sense, it seems like fighting AI with AI is a good solution. But it is not all about AI, human experts are necessary in this battle. Moreover, methods such as biometrics, use of multifactor authentication, and password management can help to boost cybersecurity. Lastly, the common sense of experts must be heard, and this would prove, once again, that AI is not here to replace humans, but to augment their ability and efficiency, including in cybersecurity.

Marina Iantorno
KuppingerCole Analysts AG
Background & Education Marina holds a Bachelor degree in Marketing from Argentinian Business School (Argentina), an MBA from Valencian International University (Spain), a Diploma in Data Analytics for Business from College of Computing and Technology (Ireland), and a Master's degree in Artificial Intelligence Research from Atlantic Technological University (Ireland). The focus of her dissertation was Natural Language Processing and Data Classification.  Professional Experience Marina gained experience in management and business intelligence for telecommunications and social media in Ireland, and she has several years of experience lecturing for third level education. Her career started as an Assistant Lecturer in Statistics at the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina), and continued in Ireland as an IT Lecturer for Data Analysis modules such as Machine Learning, Data Visualisation, and Predictive Analytics.
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