AI has grown increasingly sophisticated and has been used in multiple applications, including providing superior cybersecurity risk analysis and detection. Because it can extrapolate conclusions based on large amounts of data, it is often much more effective as an online security tool.
However, using AI poses its own potential security risks. Here is what you need to know about AI and online security, as well as their interconnected future.
What Is AI?
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is the science and engineering of machines that are able to learn from the information they are given. This technology takes over for or works in conjunction with humans. Unique algorithms are typically used to help these machines learn and make decisions.
What Are the Benefits of AI?
AI is often much more effective at detecting potential threats than a human observer. Because it can sift through massive amounts of data in little time, it is more efficient and cheaper to operate. AI harnesses the power of machine learning to identify potential threats and harmful software, allowing it to revolutionize the online world. The effective use of AI can help prevent identity theft and corporate breaches.
One unidentified report stated that combining AI-enabled technology and a cybersecurity expert is 20 times more effective at detecting security threats than using just a human.
What Problems Exist in Online Security?
Because there is so much information online and so many different access points, data is vulnerable to attack by cybercriminals. Cybercriminals may organize data breaches in which they steal information about individuals and corporations. They may sell this information online to other criminals, creating an almost never-ending cycle of breaches. This is what happened in 2013 to Yahoo when 3 billion user accounts were hacked and their sign in information was sold on the dark web.
In other situations, direct funds are stolen, such as when $101 million was transferred from the Bank of Bangladesh’s account at the New York Federal Reserve.
Another common problem is the theft of confidential information, including business records, social security numbers, medical records, trade secrets and more. One of the largest examples of this type of crime was the 2017 Equifax breach that compromised confidential information of 147 million people.
Sometimes criminals will take over a business’ system and lock out authorized users until the company pays a ransom. For example, the infamous WannaCry attack installed malware on more than 300,000 devices. The criminals demanded consumers pay to decrypt and restore data on compromised devices.
In other situations, criminals use authentic information to create fraudulent accounts.
Some of the most common mechanisms used to commit these cybercrimes include:
- Botnets – These are connected networks of computers that cybercriminals use that are already infected with malware. Criminals use these systems to infect other devices and systems.
- Malware – This is malicious software that cybercriminals use to harm or exploit systems.
- Ransomware – Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts data and keeps authorized users from accessing it until the owners pay a ransom.
- Social engineering – A social engineering attack occurs when a cybercriminal impersonates an executive at a company to secure a fund transfer.
- Phishing – Phishing is an electronic message that contains a link or attachment that typically has a virus that steals information from the device.
How Severe Is the Problem?
Cyberattacks can disrupt a business by causing the loss of access to systems, infected devices that cannot be used, and a direct transfer of funds used on unauthorized transactions. Data breaches exposed 4.1 billion records in the first six months of 2019. The average cost of a data breach was $3.92 million in 2019.
These attacks are often expensive to cure. Affected companies must invest in new devices and training. The cost to recover lost data is often substantial. Additionally, businesses may lose market share or customers because of the damage to their reputation.
Are the Problems in Cybersecurity Growing and Becoming Worse?
The problems in cybersecurity are growing and becoming worse over time. Ransomware is becoming more sophisticated. Cybercriminals are often using new methods to infiltrate systems and companies are struggling to keep up. Cybercriminals use AI to automate tasks, shield their identity, adapt new methods of fraud, and refine malicious services.
Statistics on identity theft paint a clearer picture of the current state of online security and the need to increase security efforts. The FBI warned businesses of social engineering threats after identifying 17,642 victims of such scams between Oct. 2013 and Feb. 2016. 62% of businesses experienced phishing or social engineering attacks in 2018. Additionally, 68% of business executives believed that their cybersecurity risks were increasing, according to another survey.
8,854 data breaches occurred between Jan. 1, 2005 and April 2018. The number of security breaches have increased by 11% since 2018 and by 67% since 2014.
Approximately 61% of businesses report that they are unable to detect attempts of data breaching without the use of AI, according to Capgemini’s Reinventing Cybersecurity with Artificial Intelligence Report. Additionally, 48% of surveyed businesses report that their cybersecurity budgets for AI would be increased by an average of 29% in 2020.
How Can AI Change Online Security?
Even though AI can be used by criminals to perpetrate security breaches, AI can also be used to detect and prevent cybersecurity threats. AI has already made major improvements in solving crimes and behavioral recognition; technologies such as analytics, RMC/CAD, mobile solutions, and several others are essential in the modern world. Some of the ways that AI has changed the online security landscape include:
- Reducing the time it takes to respond to threats
- Detecting fraud, intrusion, and malware much faster than humans or other types of technology
- Reducing the cost to prevent breaches
- Identifying risks with much better accuracy
- Lowering the cost to detect breaches
- Operating at all times
- Finding patterns that humans may not be able to identify
- Identifying irregularities
- Improving its function over time
- Reducing false security detections
- Preempting attacks and warning users before harm is one
- Keeping up with rapid evolutions in technology
- Building predictive capabilities
- Providing additional layers of security
- Helping improve productivity since team members can focus on other tasks, etc.
As a more efficient, affordable, and adaptable model, AI has unlimited potential to detect and respond to cyberattacks.
As cybercriminals continue to evolve and use more sophisticated attacks, businesses must be able to respond to these threats. AI can improve a business’ capability of detecting potential data breach threats and other cyberattacks. AI can establish connections between various forms of aggregated data and use it to block cyberattacks