Normally, in this monthly article, I discuss a particular cybersecurity topic. However, this month, I wanted to deviate to talk about AI. As you are probably aware, AI is making a big impact on the way we do business now. ChatGPT is almost as common a name as TikTok. We can leverage AI in IoT services, in the way we communicate, the way we code programs. Basically if you think about automation, somewhere someone is probably working out a way to get AI to do it. And for the first time, if you were paying attention, even last month’s article was created with the help of AI!
This brings me to cybersecurity impacts. Most of the time, we get a word dump of all the benefits of what AI can do for the cybersecurity professional. Things like phishing detection, automated incident response, and even predictive analysis based on historical trends can prepare IT staff for risks they weren’t even aware of.
However, for a more interesting twist, I want to talk about the benefits of AI to the attackers. Yes, because everyone benefits from AI, so don’t be surprised if your current set of security protections falls short in the near future. AI is a game changer we all need to pay attention to as it ramps up.
Here are a few examples of how we expect AI to help the attackers improve their craft of making our lives miserable.
- Automated Attacks: Attackers can use AI to automate various stages of their attacks, such as reconnaissance, vulnerability scanning, and even crafting custom malware. This allows them to scale their attacks and target a larger number of potential victims.
- Social Engineering: AI-powered chatbots or voice synthesis can be used to mimic human interactions, making social engineering attacks more convincing. Attackers could create highly realistic phishing emails, messages, or phone calls to manipulate users into revealing sensitive information.
- Counter AI Defenses: Attackers can use AI to generate adversarial traffic patterns that are designed to fool AI-based security systems. By carefully crafting input data, they can evade detection mechanisms and gain unauthorized access.
- Automated Credentials: AI can be used to automate credential stuffing attacks by generating and testing large numbers of username and password combinations to gain unauthorized access to accounts.
- Malware Generation: AI can be used to generate new variants of malware that are more difficult to detect by traditional signature-based antivirus software. These variants can constantly evolve and adapt to evade detection.
- Targeted Attacks: AI can analyze massive amounts of data to identify potential targets and vulnerabilities in a more precise manner. This helps attackers tailor their attacks to exploit specific weaknesses.
- Zero-Day Exploitation: Attackers can use AI to identify previously unknown vulnerabilities and develop exploits for them. This can significantly increase the impact of their attacks before patches are developed.
- Evasion Techniques: AI can analyze defensive mechanisms and security configurations to devise strategies for evading detection. This includes finding ways to bypass firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and other security measures.
- Deepfake Attacks: AI-generated deepfake content, such as videos or audio recordings, can be used to impersonate individuals, potentially leading to identity theft or misinformation campaigns.
- Ransomware Attacks: AI could help attackers personalize ransomware attacks by analyzing victim profiles, increasing the likelihood of successful extortion.
To counter these emerging threats, cybersecurity professionals will need to stay ahead by starting to build and improve their own AI-powered defenses, staying updated on the latest hacking techniques, and developing strategies to detect and mitigate AI-driven attacks. The ongoing arms race between the defenders and attackers is only going to get faster and more intense as the ability to generate exploits and data collection techniques are built almost on the fly.