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As with any technological advancement, with AI there is always the potential for malicious misuse. To understand the impact of AI on cybersecurity, we need to first think like a hacker. Hackers like to use tools and techniques that are simple, easy, effective, and cheap. AI is all those things, especially when applied in fundamental ways. Thus, we can use our knowledge of the hacker mindset to get ahead of potential threats.
Aside from nation-state sponsored groups and the most sophisticated cyber hacker syndicates, the commotion over cyber hackers using AI in advanced technological ways is missing the bigger, more threatening point. AI is being used to mimic humans in order to fool humans. AI is targeting YOU, and can do so when you:
Just as AI is making everyday things easier, it’s making attacks easier for cybercriminals. They’re using the technology to write believable phishing emails with proper spelling and grammar correction, and to incorporate data collected about the target company, its executives, and public information. AI is also powering rapid, intelligent responses to messages. AI can rapidly create payloaded websites or documents that look real to an end-user. AI is also used to respond in real time with a deep faked voice, extracted from recording real voices through suspicious unsolicited spam calls.
Many of the hacks on the rise today are driven by AI, but in a low-tech way. AI tools are openly available to everyday people now, but have been in use in dark corners of the internet for a while, and often in surprisingly simple and frightening ways. The surging success rate for phishing campaigns, MITM (Man in the Middle attacks), and ransomware will prove to be related to arrival of AI and the surge of its adoption.
The use of AI in phishing attacks also has implications for the broader cybersecurity landscape. As cybercriminals continue to develop and refine their AI-powered phishing techniques, it could lead to an “arms race” between cybercriminals and cybersecurity professionals. This could result in an increased demand for AI-powered cybersecurity solutions, that might be both costly and complex to implement.
To protect against AI-powered phishing attacks, individuals and businesses can take several steps including:
AI is becoming ubiquitous in homes, cars, TVs, and even space. The unfolding future of AI and sentient technologies is an exciting topic that has long captured the imagination. However, the dark side of AI looms when it’s turned against people. This is the beginning of an arms escalation, although there is no AI that can be plugged into people (yet). Users beware.
This article was originally published in Forbes, please follow me on LinkedIn.