The rapid advancement in artificial intelligence (AI), used by chatbots including ChatGPT, Bard, and ChatSonic, has paved the way to an uptake in AI across the threat landscape. The implications for both cyber hackers and cyber security are significant.
In this blog, we delve into how AI will shape the future of cyber security, recognising the potential AI has in revolutionising the way attacks are conducted in the fifth domain.
How could cyber criminals take advantage of AI?
AI driven cyber-attacks are now a critical threat. Attackers can exploit the power of AI to deploy sophisticated attacks that are even more powerful and highly destructive. There are several ways attackers might do this, including:
By understanding human behaviour and preferences, attackers can create personalised phishing campaigns that are more likely to trick targets. This tailored attack can lead to successful infiltrations. They are highly targeted and persuasive, and usually the method criminals will use to try to gain initial access. To craft these attacks, threat actors scour the internet, using open-source intelligence (OSINT) as well deception techniques to gain access to more private social media profiles. This intelligence gathering takes hours or even days to gather enough information needed to craft a sophisticated spear phishing email. However, AI algorithms can analyse massive amounts of data, including open social media platforms, reducing the time needed to craft such attacks.
From scouting to target selection, AI can empower attackers by automating various stages of the attack process. AI algorithms can rapidly identify potential vulnerabilities and high-value targets. The discovery and abuse of software vulnerabilities are crucial steps in malware development and deployment. Once identified, AI-powered malware can exploit these vulnerabilities, gaining illegal access to target systems or networks. In turn, this enables rapid infiltration and deployment of malicious payloads. Most dangerous of all, the fusion of AI and malware introduces new dimensions to destructive attacks. Attackers can now identify critical files before encrypting them. AI-enhanced malware could also learn from the response of security measures and adapt its tactics. Both aspects increase the chances of success, whether the goal is extortion or destruction.
Advanced Evasion Techniques
AI can help attackers create sophisticated evasion strategies that exploit security system flaws. Attackers may be able to get through firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and other defensive devices if machine learning algorithms are. Polymorphic malware, which can adapt and change in real time, is designed to evade standard signature-based defences. As a result, it is much more difficult for defenders to identify and stop attacks. AI-powered malware has the potential to improve polymorphic capabilities to become sneakier, faster, and more potent than conventional malware of the same type.
How can AI strengthen an organisation’s cyber security?
By unlocking the power of AI, cyber security teams can help mitigate the risk of a breach. There are many ways AI can support, including:
Enhanced Threat Detection and Response
CISOs and their teams are now able to identify and address cyber-attacks with unmatched speed and accuracy thanks to AI-powered technologies. Machine learning algorithms can examine enormous volumes of data in real-time. These would be used to spot trends and anomalies that highlight hostile activity. Due to their capacity to quickly identify cyber-attacks and take action, defenders can reduce any potential harm before it develops.
Adaptive Defence Systems
AI-based systems are particularly good at defending against developing cyber-attacks. They adjust and upgrade their defences to match new attack patterns. When safeguarding sensitive information and vital infrastructure against threat actors, this agility offers a vital advantage.
Automated Vulnerability Assessments
Defenders can more effectively find vulnerabilities in their systems by automating assessments and penetration testing processes. AI-powered systems may discover potential weaknesses and offer the most effective corrective actions. This is achieved by simulating various attack scenarios, which will improve the overall cybersecurity posture.
By tracking user behaviour and network activity, AI-driven behavioural analytics can spot anomalies that might point to insider threats or compromised accounts. AI systems can identify suspicious activity by examining past data and patterns, allowing defenders to quickly respond and lessen the harm done by insider threats.
How to unlock the power of AI in cyber security
The future of cyber security is changing as a result of AI integration. Organisations may use AI to improve their cyber security protocols, identify threats more quickly, and repel attacks. Attackers, on the other hand, can also gain from AI by using automation, sophisticated evasion strategies, and weaponised AI to execute more complicated and devastating cyber-attacks.
Organisations must remain watchful and adjust their cyber security strategy to counter new attacks as technology develops. AI will continue to define cyber security in the future. Innovation and adaptation will determine whether cyber attackers or cyber security prevails.
There are ways organisations can protect against even the most sophisticated of attacks, including:
- Utilise CTI (Cyber Threat Intelligence), for the latest TTPs of threat actors using AI, malware signatures associated with such attacks and to enhance your organisations vulnerability and patching procedures.
- User training and awareness for social engineering attacks.
- Understand and reduce user’s digital footprint, to limit the information available that can be used against individuals.
- Incorporate AI and machine learning defence tools.
- Build strong relationships, promoting the sharing of threat intelligence – enabling the early detection and mitigation of AI enhanced attacks.