Artificial intelligence has long since arrived in cybersecurity – but criminals are also increasingly using AI for their attacks. At the end, which side has the most leverage?
From its humble beginnings to today, artificial intelligence has come a long way. Technology now surrounds us in many areas of our everyday lives. It decides what content we see on social networks, what ads we see online, and it suggests the latest music in our streaming app.
However, artificial intelligence probably has the most significant influence on operational success in cybersecurity. AI is playing a more critical role than ever in protecting computer systems and networks – and its power is growing. Multinational companies, in particular, defend themselves with the help of AI.
Automation And Acceleration
Artificial intelligence is primarily used where enormous amounts of data have to be analyzed quickly. When it comes to protecting digital assets, this helps, for example, to recognize connections or identify cases that are outside the norm. Therefore, artificial intelligence is most commonly found in cybersecurity, where dangers must be placed. AI supports human threat detection through automation and acceleration – for example, by statically analyzing files before execution to detect malware.
Artificial intelligence can also help respond to attacks by automatically restoring corrupted data after a ransomware incident. In addition, hard drive failures can be predicted and combated with proactive backups.
Attackers Also Rely On AI
However, the technology is not only used to protect systems. Criminals have long been using machine learning to automate their attacks. This plays a vital role in the preparation phase for a spell. The main aim here is to gather information about the target, for example, using tools that harvest data from social networks to create personalized phishing emails.
Specific attacks, including CEO fraud, use fake images and voice recordings created with deeply affected technology. Such content is deceptively actual and almost impossible to identify as a fake, as various successful cases of CEO fraud have shown in recent years.
However, this approach does not yet utilize the full potential of machine learning. So far, no case of autonomously learning malware has become known – there have only been attacks that have adapted their behavior to changing circumstances but based on classically defined rules.
This currently gives protective areas of application of AI in cybersecurity a clear advantage.
However, it is only a matter of time before the technology is mature enough to produce self-learning systems that can crack AI-supported security mechanisms. This development is summarized under the term adversarial AI.
Criminals Could Catch Up In The Next Three To Five Years
We will probably see such systems in the next three to five years. But security companies are already anticipating this development by using AI attacks to train their defense intelligence to ward off learning attacks. That gives them an advantage.
Many algorithms, intense learning and neural networks are currently unable to withstand a targeted attack. Attackers can influence the AI’s decision trees via slightly manipulated but benign inputs and thus ultimately trigger an unwanted action. Finally, the malware can no longer be detected because many easily used files previously weakened the system considerably. The famous frog in the water doesn’t realize it’s being slowly boiled.
Adversarial AI Fails On Humans
The attacker and the attacked are always human at the starting and ending points. Therefore, good cyber protection must include the human factor and the latest tools and protective measures such as AI-supported systems. For example, regular and comprehensive employee training courses on attack methods, threat detection and threat prevention are essential supplements.
Artificial intelligence is an essential line of defense in cyberspace today. But it cannot replace all previous techniques. Therefore, we must expand our toolbox to deal with the rapidly evolving threat landscape. Because when it comes to successfully defending yourself against modern cyber attacks, there is no silver bullet. Although AI offers excellent potential for both sides of the playing field, it is only one building block in comprehensive security strategies.