Artificial intelligence is developing at an unprecedented rate. The news is full of scientific breakthroughs from cars which can drive themselves to robots who can hold a conversation. It’s becoming more and more clear that the future will be shaped by this technology. But as it continues to develop, how will it shape the future of cyber security? A rise in the most basic forms of AI technology brings with it a whole host of new risks. On the flip side, AI and machine learning is helping to solve many security threats. It’s up to the security professionals and AI developers to ensure that the new technology increases online security and doesn’t become a tool for those who want to threaten it.
AI technology offers many opportunities to make our cyber security more reliable than ever before. Security firms are developing AI systems to detect malware and threat activity using machine learning algorithm sets, meaning that threats can be identified and stopped as they happen. AI can also make use of natural language processing. AI systems can collect data from articles, news and studies to provide organisations with insight into the latest cyber threats. These systems can also explore areas of the dark web to monitor hacker communities and forums, collecting data from breaches and identifying signs of any recent compromises to warn companies well in advance before things get worse.
This being said, malicious hackers can use this technology to their own advantage as well. AI is being setup to scour the internet to learn about users’ interests and habits to create bespoke phishing or social engineering scams that they’re more likely to believe. ‘Chat bots’ are also being used to target multiple people at the same time. When it comes to hacking company networks and software, hackers can use AI to search for, identify and exploit weaknesses at a much greater rate. As well as this, if AI technology has been built without security as a priority it may become a target in itself – to potentially disastrous consequences. Imagine if someone found a way to gain access to self-driving vehicles, for example.
So, what is the solution to tackle these emerging threats? AI technology must always remain one step ahead of the malicious hackers. Technology that positively impacts cyber security should be developed to respond to the ever-changing threat landscape. If hackers are going to use AI to target us, security professionals must use it to stop them. For example, the same technology hackers use to find and exploit vulnerabilities can be used to find and fix them before they even have the chance. When it comes to building new AI tech, it should be developed with security and potential exploitability as a number one priority. Right from the moment an idea is conceived, developers should be asking themselves ‘how could this technology be exploited?’ and be sure to build it with this in mind.
Though the risks posed by AI are potentially worrying, it’s important that we see and utilise it as a force for good. Artificial intelligence could become the solution to helping us identify and stop hackers. Machines which can quickly and effectively learn their methods could be the key to the technology’s own protection. As long as those developing artificial intelligence do not sacrifice security in the name of innovation, we should find that this technology helps to create a more secure world.
Paige McArdle, Marketing and Communications Manager