Cyber attacks have increased enormously in recent years; there barely seems to be a week which goes by without a story of data being stolen from one or other of the largest private companies. Even governments have been attacked; there are still stories regarding Russia’s influence in the recent American and French elections.
The need for cyber defense has never been greater! It is perhaps more important to be able to defend against these attacks than it is to be able to launch counter-attacks. The need of cyber defense companies is growing due to the fact that people become more knowledgeable in IT sphere.
This is a controversial subject in that many people are cautious regarding artificial intelligence. This comes from the fear that, one day; A.I. will evolve far enough that it will no longer see the need for humanity. The result would be a war between artificial intelligence and humans which would probably devastate the planet.
However, A.I. systems are nowhere near this stage of development at present. The current version of A.I. allows a computer to learn within its programming.
Artificial Intelligence and Cyber Defense
In order to defend against cyber attacks it is necessary to scan huge amounts of data to locate the anomalies which can suggest an attack is imminent, in progress or hidden ready for future use. Unfortunately this kind of review process takes many hours. It is not possible to pass this over to an automated system as it will only be able to locate existing threats which have been programmed into its databanks.
To defend against cyber attack you need to be able to evaluate the data and form an opinion on where there are anomalies and potential for threats. This requires a higher level of intelligence than your standard computer system has.
However, if you add A.I. into your mix you will have the capability to scan huge amounts of data much faster. The artificial intelligence will be able to locate new anomalies and evolve to find even more in the future! The result is far more threats and potential cyber attacks are located and destroyed before they can become an issue.
The Role of Artificial Intelligence and Cyber Attack
The potential for artificial intelligence to merge with malware or viruses would enable a whole new realm of cyber attacks. This can be illustrated effectively by something as simple as phishing.
Currently a hacker will look for your personal details and your email address. They can usually find these in the public domain. They will then send you a genuine looking email which will invite you to click on a link or even donate funds. Clicking the link opens the malware or virus and provides them with access to your data.
When you add artificial intelligence to this, you will create a whole new level of threat. The A.I. would need to be installed on your computer, through a dubious link or even a phishing scam. The A.I. would then be able to monitor your emails and other contacts to establish how you communicate, your preferred times to be online and a host of other information. Because the installed software has A.I. it will be able to identify which information is useful and which is not.
As soon as it has collected enough data it would email you a phishing message which would exactly mimic your usual messages. The result will be no suspicion on your part and success for the hacker!
Once you realize that one A.I. device can easily convince you to click on a link you will start to see the power of A.I and how it can be used on much larger scale cyber attacks.
One of the most obvious and commonly talked about targets is the infrastructure. The right virus could shut down the power supply for days or even wipe the drives of the distribution computer. The ensuring panic would take weeks or even months to resolve!
This is already a possibility and one that cyber defense is working hard on preventing. However, if the hacker has access to artificial intelligence they can add this to their attack protocols. It will learn each time it attempts an attack and revise its efforts to try again. If you have several artificial intelligence hackers, trying different options it is likely that one will find a way through even the most advanced defense network. All they need to do is look for the right vulnerability and adapt their own approach to match.
Although this used to be something that only humans could do, artificial intelligence can now be used with impressive effects. A.I. is surprisingly quick at finding the holes in a defense network and attacking!
Artificial Intelligence is the Solution and the Problem!
You may think it is simply better not to introduce A.I. into cyber attacks. However, even if governments choose not to do this, hackers are already aware of the possibilities and will exploit them for their own benefit.
The speed at which an artificial intelligence can locate vulnerability is alarming. What is worse is that this speed can simply not be matched by a human defense expert. It is simply not possible to close the holes fast enough to prevent an artificial intelligence related cyber attack from finding its way in.
Fortunately, artificial intelligence can also provide the solution! Defense systems which are linked to artificial intelligence will react quickly enough. The best programs will look for the vulnerabilities in the same way that the attackers will. Assuming it can find them before the attacker it can then create a patch, learn from the issue and move on.
It is therefore obvious and essential that artificial intelligence is incorporated into defense systems. In many ways it is an extension of the theory that the best line of defense is attack!
It is clear that A.I. and both cyber attack and defense are connected. However, artificial intelligence is still in its early stages and costs a large amount of funds to develop. At this stage it would seem unlikely that individual hackers would waste their resources on developing an artificial intelligence cyber attack when there are still so many who fall for the standard phishing attacks and identity theft. Cyber attacks with artificial intelligence are currently the reserve of governments; but it will only be a matter of time before it is a standard approach. It is best to be prepared now!