AI the New Battlefield in Cyberattack and Defense

October 19, 2020

It was inevitable—in the struggle between cybercrime and security, each side constantly strives to be a step ahead of the other. Now, both bad actors and protectors are turning to AI tools. Darktrace’s Max Heinemeyer describes the escalation in, “War of the Algorithms: The Next Evolution of Cyber Attacks” posted at Information/Age. He explains:

“In recent years, thousands of organizations have embraced AI to understand what is ‘normal’ for their digital environment and identify behavior that is anomalous and potentially threatening. Many have even entrusted machine algorithms to autonomously interrupt fast-moving attacks. This active, defensive use of AI has changed the role of security teams fundamentally, freeing up humans to focus on higher level tasks. … In what is the attack landscape’s next evolution, hackers are taking advantage of machine learning themselves to deploy malicious algorithms that can adapt, learn, and continuously improve in order to evade detection, signaling the next paradigm shift in the cyber security landscape: AI-powered attacks. We can expect Offensive AI to be used throughout the attack life cycle – be it to use natural language processing to understand written language and to craft contextualized spear-phishing emails at scale or image classification to speed up the exfiltration of sensitive documents once an environment is compromised and the attackers are on the hunt for material they can profit from.”

Forrester recently found (pdf) nearly 90% of security pros they surveyed expect AI attacks to become common within the year. Tools already exist that can, for example, assess an organizations juiciest targets based on their social media presence and then tailor phishing expeditions for the highest chance of success. On the other hand, defensive AI tools track what is normal activity for its organization’s network and works to block suspicious activity as soon as it begins. As each side in this digital arms race works to pull ahead of the other, the battles continue.

Cynthia Murrell, October 19, 2020


2 Responses to “AI the New Battlefield in Cyberattack and Defense”

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