Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the fastest-growing and most disruptive technologies today. The IDC forecasts the global AI market to reach over $500 billion in total revenue by 2024, registering a 17.5 percent CAGR between 2020 and 2024.
Thanks to advancements in computer architecture, deep neural networks, machine learning, and intelligence programming, AI has evolved from a novelty technology into a powerful problem-solving tool. Today, AI powers advanced CRMs, data processing, digital marketing, HR management, and robotic process automation systems across several business sectors.
AI has also found its way into the cybersecurity landscape. Unfortunately, threat actors are already abusing AI’s power to devise innovative attack tools and techniques. Let’s look at how cybercriminals weaponize AI and ways to protect your assets against these threats.
More sophisticated threats
In theory, hackers could automate threats by integrating AI with malware. Instead of designing malware with definite instructions, threat actors can adapt malware to target specific defense systems. Smart malware can also auto-adapt within the attack environment to actively evade detection by cybersecurity defenses. Malicious AI would enable cybercriminals to launch highly targeted attacks faster and at greater scales than is otherwise possible with conventional malware.
Although there are no good examples of intelligent malware exploits in the wild, this doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Three researchers at Cornell University recently published a report proving that active malware can hide inside a neural network. Also, back in 2018, IBM’s DeepLocker experiment made headlines after demonstrating the possibility of stealthy, AI-enhanced malware.
Convincing social engineering attacks
Scammers are using AI to fabricate compelling social engineering attacks. The latest and most popular AI-enhanced social attack vector is known as deepfakes. This involves using AI techniques to manipulate fake audiovisual media to appear or sound authentic. For instance, a threat actor can create a deepfake video impersonating a celebrity or public figure to spread misinformation or evoke an unwarranted response from the audience.
Additionally, attackers can utilize intelligent spyware to track user behavior to plan a narrowly targeted, convincing scam. Some of these human impersonations and behavior monitoring bots are already active on social media and e-commerce platforms.
AI-powered password hacking
Credentials’ safety is one of the main pain points in cybersecurity. Usually, account passwords and usernames get hashed before they enter a database. So, even if a hacker accessed the hashed passwords, they wouldn’t decipher or use the actual password strings. But, using AI algorithms, cybercriminals can analyze enormous password datasets to generate plausible password variations.
Un-hashing passwords is not a new thing, although it’s tedious, time-consuming, and resource-intensive. But with AI, it becomes more efficient, accurate, and faster, making it worth the trouble.
Fighting fire with fire
Cybersecurity defenses are also getting smarter to match the increasingly intelligent threat landscape – a trend that’s quickly catching on. In a 2019 survey, nearly 70 percent of IT leaders agreed that AI was necessary for responding to modern cyber threats. Additionally, 51 percent of the organizations surveyed utilized AI in threat detection. AI genuinely enhances digital security, particularly in:
- Threat hunting and vulnerability assessment
- Network and systems monitoring
- User behavior tracking and analysis
- Advanced intruder and malware detection
- Anti-phishing email scanners
- Threat modeling and risk prediction
- Attack response mechanisms
You’ve probably used AI-driven firewalls, antiviruses, and user authentication systems without even knowing it. That’s just how far AI and cybersecurity have come. And the cybersecurity sphere will only grow more sophisticated as AI systems become even better at studying, emulating, and predicting human behavior.
Are you worried about the safety of your digital assets? Partner with GB Tech to help your enterprise navigate the complex cyber threat landscape. From endpoint protection and cybersecurity planning to 24/7 monitoring, our innovative solutions will ensure you’re always a step ahead of new threats. Reach out today, and let’s talk about your cybersecurity.