Artificial intelligence is a term that makes some people very nervous, as it conjures up images of a world where mankind is enslaved by machines. The prospect of someone creating a real-life “Skynet” seems more real than ever as AI develops greater and more sophisticated capabilities.
At the same time, these are only possibilities for the future. At the present time, AI is here whether we like it or not. Thus, we might as well consider its use in the field of cybersecurity. As hackers begin to use AI as a weapon and adapt it for their purposes, there may not be any choice in this matter.
Do You Need An AI-Driven Cyber-Defense?
There are good arguments in both columns. On the one hand, the threat of AI-enhanced hacking is not that serious at present. However, there is no doubt that this threat is going to increase. Another fact which is not in doubt: The best way to fight a malicious AI is with a defensive AI.
To figure out if this kind of thing is really needed, let’s ask the question: how many people have actually been hacked with AI-enhanced tools? Unfortunately, we have not been able to find definite statistics on this one. As it is a relatively new threat, we aren’t that surprised. We started by looking at some of the reports that are regularly released by cybersecurity agencies/companies, with this being one example.
As you can see, there is no mention of AI-related threats. And so, we must look for individual examples. First, we might mention the hacking of Taskrabbit, a site where people are hired to do various small jobs. The data of about 3.75 million users was compromised, so this one was pretty bad. It was done through the use of an AI-assisted botnet. The DDOS attack carried out with this botnet was able to shut down the site and open it up for data harvesting.
We also found that WordPress, a popular web-hosting company, was affected by a similar botnet attack. This one also seems to have used AI to control the bots, suggesting a pattern of behavior from certain attackers. About 20,000 WordPress sites were affected to one degree or another. This opens up the very real possibility of an embedded bot using AI capabilities to take control of your system.
How Big Is The Threat?
We have had a hard time finding specific examples of AI-related cyberattacks (other than the two listed above). And, as mentioned earlier, they do not seem to appear in any of the accepted statistics, either. However, both of the above-mentioned attacks were pretty successful, and so that is enough to confirm that the danger is real.
At the same time, this is not a huge threat at present. Your chances of being attacked in this way are still very low, but all of the top cybersecurity organizations and experts are predicting that this will change. In fact, they have been saying that for several years now. It’s always a good idea to engage in a little bit of preventive medicine. As such, we would definitely recommend that large companies and organizations should consider the use of AI-driven defense software.
How Does AI-Based Cyber Defense Work?
The great thing about AI-driven cyberdefense is its ability to act against threats automatically. Unlike traditional antivirus software, it needs no direction from the user to detect and root out threats. AI is uniquely well-suited for this purpose because it relies on pattern recognition.
A defensive AI is trained using various examples of suspicious behavior, usually using data derived from real cyberattacks. By analyzing the data from previous incidents, the AI learns to recognize those patterns of activity that are most likely to indicate trouble. Some companies have already begun selling software that combines antivirus software with AI control.
Benefits of AI-Enhanced Cybersecurity
The whole point of AI-enhanced cybersecurity is to remove the human element, which is definitely the biggest weak point. The continued prevalence of phishing attacks is evidence of that, as are the various other “social engineering” hacks that regularly happen. However, an AI can often see things that a human eye cannot see, and that makes it easier for them to recognize suspicious patterns. While you are only looking at that which is on the screen, the AI can look at the code and see red flags (if they are present).
Another benefit we can see here is convenience. Most antivirus software requires regular action on the part of the user, such as regular scans and cleanup operations. AI offers the chance to automate all of these things, giving you a virtual set of self-sustaining defenses.
This technology also has a lot of potential when combined with the use of network monitoring. Network monitoring involves looking at the raw data that passes between various computers on the internet (known as “packets”). Although this is a great way to detect threats, it takes a trained eye to spot that suspicious traffic. If an AI were able to competently do this task, it could greatly enhance the useability of network monitoring software.
In the end, we cannot give one answer that will fit everyone. Most people honestly don’t need to worry about AI-enhanced cyber threats right now, but this will definitely become a big concern in the future. As for when things will change, no one can say for sure, but it’s definitely on the horizon. As such, anyone who has sensitive data to protect should probably go ahead and address this problem before it becomes a serious one. If you are unsure and in need of some advice, you can call PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500.