In a relatively short time, artificial intelligence (AI) has evolved from a recurrent theme in science fiction into one of the fastest-growing and most impactful technologies in the world, with the global AI market projected to reach $1,597.1 billion by 2030, up from $119.78 billion in 2022.
One area that’s currently being transformed by AI is cybersecurity.
On the one hand, cybersecurity companies are using AI defensively to make their solutions more effective. On the other hand, cybercriminals are weaponizing AI for offensive purposes.
In this article, we discuss the impact of AI in cybersecurity and explore these two distinct applications of AI in cybersecurity to help you better understand the impact of simulated human intelligence on organizations like yours so that you have all the information you need to thrive in this rapidly evolving landscape.
6 Critical Cybersecurity Policies Every Organization Must Have
Defensive Use of AI in Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity has always been a cat-and-mouse game. Whenever organizations take advantage of new technologies to become more efficient, competitive, and productive, attackers come looking for vulnerabilities to exploit.
Large enterprises can gain the upper hand by hiring more cybersecurity talent, but smaller organizations often lack the resources to do so. This is where AI comes in as a potential solution, offering a cost-effective way to level the playing field by automating and otherwise enhancing many aspects of cybersecurity, making it possible for smaller teams to achieve big results.
More Accurate Threat Detection
Traditional threat detection methods often rely on signature-based detection, which involves looking for known malicious code or behavior. However, these methods may miss more sophisticated attacks that haven’t been identified yet. AI-based threat detection methods, on the other hand, can analyze massive quantities of data in real time to learn what normal traffic looks like. They can then use this information from AI and cybersecurity to accurately detect deviations from it.
Real-Time Response to Detected Threats
AI can be leveraged to respond in real time to detected threats. This means that as soon as a threat is detected, AI-powered tools can automatically take action to contain and remediate the threat. They can, for example, isolate the affected systems from the rest of the network, block malicious traffic, and notify the IT team. By automating the response to threats using AI, organizations can significantly reduce the time it takes to mitigate security incidents.
Intelligent Fraud Prevention
AI can be used to detect and prevent fraud by identifying and responding to patterns that correlate with financial fraud, identity theft, and other forms of cybercrime, such as unusual payment requests or account activity. Additionally, AI can be used to improve authentication and access controls with techniques such as facial recognition, helping organizations prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information and systems.
Offensive Use of AI in Cybersecurity
While AI is emerging as a highly effective addition to any organization’s cyber defenses, it has already attracted the attention of malicious actors, who are actively exploring its offensive potential, using it create more sophisticated attacks at a greater scale than ever before.
By examining the potential risks associated with the offensive use of AI in cybersecurity, we can better understand how the future threat landscape will look like and what it will take for organizations to survive in it.
Increased Speed and Scale of Attacks
Some malware creators have been using AI to effortlessly recreate malware strains and techniques described in research publications and online write-ups. For example, OpenAI’s ChatGPT has been successfully used to write functional malware capable of stealing sensitive files, encrypting hard drive content, and more. While AI-produced malware is far from sophisticated, the speed and scale with which it can be produced is alarming because it allows attackers to evade detection by creating variants of existing malware strains with a few clicks.
Greater Sophistication of Attacks
AI can also be used to make attacks more sophisticated and thus more difficult to detect and stop. One real-world example of this happened in 2019. According to a report published by The Wall Street Journal at the time, attackers used AI-based software to impersonate the voice of the CEO of an energy company and demanded a fraudulent transfer of €220,000 ($243,000). With various AI-based software becoming increasingly available and capable, we can expect to see similar highly targeted social engineering attacks happening regularly.
Bypassing Biometric Authentication
Cybersecurity experts have been warning about the limitations of password-based security for years now. Biometric authentication in the form of fingerprint or facial recognition has become a popular alternative thanks to its convenience and perceived security. Some of the same cybersecurity experts are now worried that AI-created deepfakes could be used to bypass biometric authentication and gain access to protected systems.
Conclusion: Artificial Intelligence in Cybersecurity Is Is a Double-Edged Sword
In conclusion, AI is proving to be a double-edged sword in the world of cybersecurity.
While the defensive use of AI has great potential to enhance threat detection and response capabilities, the offensive use of AI by cybercriminals can pose a significant threat. That’s why organizations must keep up with the rapidly evolving cybersecurity landscape and adopt a cybersecurity strategy that incorporates AI-based solutions as one of multiple layers of defense.
Get in touch with us at OSIbeyond and let us help you leverage AI-based solutions to protect your organization against cyber threats. Our IT support & strategy services are tailored to meet the needs of small and medium-sized organizations in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.