How Cybercriminals Utilize the Power of AI to Launch Attacks by Vanessa Venugopal

Artificial Intelligence is a technology that brings plenty of positive uses in various industries. It helps improve our need to lighten the workload and create a convenient future. However, despite the good intention of artificial intelligence, there will be people who will exploit it.

Cybercriminals and hackers are smart enough to keep up with what’s going on. They have found ways to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning for their malicious intent.

The rampant exploitation of artificial intelligence by cybercriminals has left cybersecurity experts scrambling for ideas to beat them. As cybersecurity professionals utilize AI to protect data, systems, servers, and businesses, their very own technology is used against them. Hence, making AI a double-edged sword.

As AI can now support attacks of cybercriminals, experts should find ways to counteract these attacks. 

So, how can cybercriminals utilize artificial intelligence and launch attacks?

AI-powered Attacks Utilized by Cybercriminals

  • Deep Fakes

With the growing use of the internet and social media, AI technology has reached millions worldwide. It means plenty of people have an idea of its use. Knowledgeable individuals can find ways to use AI in a way that can harm others.

Deepfakes have been popularized today, with apps allowing people to put their faces on another image or video without looking edited. The use of such advanced technology can manipulate visual and audio content. 

Deepfakes is a combination of deep learning and fake media. It manipulates people into thinking that the content is legitimate or authentic, but in reality, it’s not. The problem with deep fakes is that it is difficult to differentiate them from what is real.

Cybercriminals can alter videos and audio using deep fake technology to achieve whatever goal it is. They can fake audios and ask for money to be transferred. Or, they can blackmail people by creating counterfeit videos or content to use.

AI-powered deepfakes can be harmful to everyone. With plenty of content online that looks realistic, it is better if people take precautions before believing what they see.

  • Impersonates Human-like Activities on Social Media Platforms

Ever wonder why some accounts have a few following, then suddenly they have millions? Although this is not often true on some accounts, AI can imitate human behavior. 

What this AI technology does is follow the behavior of a human in social media. It creates fraudulent activities or boosts content by generating fake likes and follows.

This technology can surpass the detection systems of popular social media networks.

One example of this AI-impersonator is seen in Spotify. A bot called nulled.to can mimic the behavior of humans on Spotify. It is used to increase the streaming counts on a specific song or artist. Also, it can create its own playlists and a playlist with other users.

  • Better AI-powered Malware

If AI is used to detect malware and other suspicious activities, it can also launch sophisticated attacks.

Hackers have gained knowledge to use AI as their weapon. There are AI-powered applications and malware that increase speed and adaptability. It changes its behavior whenever it encounters a security system. When on a server, they try to mimic legitimate traffic on a network. 

The ability of this AI-powered malware prevents it from being detected. It can even surpass virtual machines and sandboxes. That’s how sophisticated malware threats are becoming these days. The power to adapt to changes and blend in with how normal nodes and patterns work makes it a bigger problem for cybersecurity experts.

  • Cracking of CAPTCHA Keys

CAPTCHA, short for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Human Apart, is a security measure to determine bots from unauthorized access. It can detect the difference between a human and a bot. However, gone are the days that humans are capable of encoding CAPTCHAs.

AI has been used to understand and solve CAPTCHAs accurately and fast. 

  • Hidden Within the System

AI threats used by cybercriminals can remain for the long term in a target environment. It can even stay on an organization's network or server for months without being detected. These AI threats move slowly and blend in with routine activities in the system.

It studies every pattern, channel, behavior, and port to move along discreetly. Its ability to keep quiet and remain in the background can become a dangerous move. It can slowly affect devices and steal data without an organization knowing it.

AI threats can distinguish which data are valuable. Hence, allowing the hacker less time and effort to sort out the information stolen.

  • Smart Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks have been around for years. Traditional phishing attacks are so pervasive that it's quick to recognize their difference. But, as cybersecurity experts find a way to detect them easily, hackers are smart enough to utilize the same tool to beat their defense system.

AI-powered phishing attacks are becoming the leading way for hackers to target victims.

With AI, hackers can gather sensitive information. It uses the power of AI to create authentic and legitimate-looking emails you’ve never seen before. As they don’t seem like traditional phishing emails, people are led to open and click on fake URLs.

These URLs can extract data from the victim or inject malware into the device to steal more information.

Aside from smart email phishing attacks, AI is used to launch advanced spear phishing. Here the attacker will impersonate a legitimate website or person to lure an employee or person into a trap.

  • Attacks Become Faster

Most of the time, hackers consider things. They take their time researching their target. They need to spend hours cracking a code and so on. However, as cybercriminals jump into utilizing AI for their attacks, everything changes.

AI-based cyberattacks will become more effective as they become difficult to detect and faster to launch. As a result, it would be difficult for security software or practices that use traditional methods to detect these emerging threats.

Attacks can also become faster due to advanced technologies like 5G networks. When networks and communications move to a cutting-edge movement, it leads to a swarm of attacks. Furthermore, due to its speed, it can become the source of attacks on other devices too.

Fighting AI with AI

Since cybercriminals adapt to the latest technology for their benefit, cybersecurity experts should do the same.

Traditional security methods are great when fighting traditional attacks. But, if you want to get ahead of the game, use advanced technology.

You might think that using the same strategy as hackers won’t work, but it will.

Using security solutions with AI creates a faster analysis and mitigation of threats. As attacks become sophisticated, launching AI-powered systems and security tackles advanced threats faster. Hence, it lessens the burden on the part of humans.

Individuals and businesses can prevent further loss of data and damage with cutting-edge AI technology.

AI and Cybersecurity Applications

Using AI on security solutions prevents and lessens the damage that AI-driven cyberattacks can have on the system. There are multiple ways cybersecurity professionals can utilize AI in security techniques.

  • Monitoring the User’s Behavior

AI and machine learning (ML) included in the system can detect unusual behavioral patterns. It monitors how the user normally utilizes an account. If any changes are detected, it automatically blocks the user and sends an alert to the admin.

  • In-depth Email Scanning

Anti-phishing email technology can identify legitimate emails. It scans all content, from links to attachments. Aside from inspecting the content, it checks on the sender and its activities. In such a way, users will avoid clicking on phishing emails that could cause harm to data and devices.

  • Monitoring of Network and System

A manual method of analyzing networks and systems can take time. Furthermore, automated attacks launched by cybercriminals can bypass the firewall and traditional security systems used.

The best way is to incorporate AI-powered defenses such as keyword matching and anomaly detection for a better and faster way to prevent attacks from penetrating the defenses.

  • Use AI-powered Antivirus Products

Individuals can keep their devices and data safe by investing in AI-powered antivirus products. Such technology can monitor how programs in the device normally interact with the operating system. Any changes in their behavior can be deemed suspicious. Hence, blocking the program from accessing any resources.

Traditional antivirus tools are being replaced with AI and ML technologies. Bitdefender antivirus, Avast, Cylance Smart Antivirus, and Windows Defender Security Center are a few security software programs that have adopted AI.

Conclusion

Artificial Intelligence opens plenty of opportunities and makes life easier. But when malicious attackers use it for their good, it leads to a dangerous outcome. The only way experts can fight AI threats is to equip themselves with AI and other technological advancements.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Vanessa Venugopal is a passionate content writer. With four years of experience, she mastered the art of writing in various styles and topics. She is currently writing for Softvire Australia - the leading software eCommerce company in Australia and Softvire New Zealand.

 

 


 

October 11, 2021
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