Artificial intelligence – in short: AI – has made it from fiction into everyday life: Science benefits from artificial intelligence just as much as healthcare, automotive, marketing, or robotics. Definitely out of their infancy, Artificial Intelligences set out to conquer everyday life.
This is also the case in cybersecurity: Artificial intelligence means developing new opportunities to defend against cyber risks. But the other side also uses them – AI is increasingly being used by cybercriminals as a weapon of attack. We use today’s post to introduce you to the possibilities that criminals use to hunt data with the help of AI and those that can be used to ward off attacks.
Table of Contents
Artificial Intelligence – what Is It?
AI is on everyone’s lips – but what is the media talking about? To put it simply, artificial intelligence is the attempt to transfer human learning and thinking to computers. It is no longer necessary to program separately for each purpose. Still, machine learning (ML) enables Artificial Intelligence to find answers to burning questions independently and to be able to solve problems alone.
Science fiction fans have come across the term “Artificial intelligence” more often. In films, robots or computers were often depicted that can think and act independently. Think of the good “Data” from “Star Trek” or the AI villain “HAL” from “2001: A Space Odyssey”.
What we’ve seen in films has little in common with the AI we speak of in our natural world today. Artificial Intelligence is currently somewhat hidden from us: For example, when Amazon gives you product recommendations based on your previous purchases when you only see the content of your “bubble” on Facebook when you chat with “Alexa” or “Siri” or even if social networks can automatically recognize people in photos. But artificial intelligence is also widely used in cybersecurity – both on the part of cybercriminals and those who want to stop this group.
Artificial Intelligence For Cyber Attacks & IT Attacks
Let us first look at the possibilities of artificial intelligence, which is primarily valued by dodgy characters: What makes AI interesting for hackers? Suppose criminals use artificial intelligence for penetration techniques and analysis and imitation of behavior. In that case, the attacks can be carried out in a more targeted, faster, coordinated, and, above all, more efficiently. Cybercriminals use different ways to do this:
Cybercriminals very often use artificial intelligence in conjunction with malware that is distributed via email. Thanks to AI, the malware can imitate user behavior even better: The texts in the emails are written with such immense semantic quality that it can be challenging for the recipient to distinguish from genuine emails. Artificial intelligence learns from mistakes every time and continues to optimize its tactics with every further attack.
Artificial Intelligence Bypasses Captcha
Captcha systems usually act as a spam protection: systems use image mosaics or simple equations to recognize that users are people and not machines. This effectively nullifies this safety mechanism, and it becomes impossible to differentiate between man and machine. However, Artificial intelligence breaks this barrier very easily: through machine learning, artificial intelligence is fed with so many different images that they can automatically recognize them and solve captchas.
Intelligent Vulnerability Search
Suppose hackers want to find vulnerabilities through which they can penetrate systems or through which they can bring malware into systems. In that case, Artificial Intelligence makes this search very easy for them because AI can automatically examine many interfaces of the victim systems for weak points. If cybercriminals encounter vulnerabilities in this way, Artificial intelligence can differentiate whether it can be used as a gateway for malicious code or to paralyze the system.
Information Acquisition Through Artificial Intelligence
Blackmail – for example, with the help of ransomware – is currently one of the most widespread attack methods. For executives or executives to be blackmailed, for instance, sufficient information about these victims is required. Here, too, when it comes to obtaining information, cybercriminals rely on artificial intelligence: With the help of AI, social networks, but also forums or other websites can be explicitly searched for information on target persons or companies, much more efficiently than cybercriminals would be able to do without AI.
AI Guesses Passwords
Another possibility of attack, which has been simplified thanks to artificial intelligence, is guessing passwords. Such AI systems already exist today that successfully guess passwords through machine learning.
Malicious Code Adjustments
Cybercriminals can dynamically adapt malicious code thanks to artificial intelligence. In other words, if manufacturers react with security patches, for example, the intelligent malicious code automatically adjusts so that it can still rage. Machine learning ensures that the malicious code continues to learn and can thus “adapt” to changes.
KI-As-A-Service: A Business Model In The Darknet
Not every cybercriminal knows how to program their AI-based systems. That is why colleagues in the Darknet offer such systems as “KI-as-a-Service.” In other words: Criminals who are not gifted with more excellent knowledge in dealing with artificial intelligence can book ready-made solutions. This also lowers the barriers to entry for more minor hackers and gangs.
Artificial Intelligence Optimizes Cybersecurity
As mentioned at the beginning, the coin has two sides: We have already introduced that of cybercriminals, so let’s look at what artificial intelligence can do for cyber defense. AI already plays a significant role in detecting threats and repelling attacks. The learning algorithms can recognize behavioral patterns in the event of seizures and take targeted action against them. In detail:
AV Software Works With AI
Conventional anti-virus software is based on signature recognition. If a new form of malware appears, artificial intelligence can compare it with previous papers and then automatically decide whether the malware should be repelled automatically. The future of AI-based malware detection could develop so that ransomware will also be detected before the data is encrypted.
AI-Controlled Spam And Phishing Detection
Conventional filter methods for recognizing spam or phishing emails use statistical models and database solutions such as blocklists. However, these methods reach their limits – faster than the user can do justice to. Solutions based on artificial intelligence, on the other hand, can also recognize or learn complex patterns in spam and phishing emails.
Artificial Intelligence Optimizes Monitoring
Monitoring – the monitoring of computers and networks – is very time-consuming but without options to detect anomalies that could indicate attacks. However, this is precisely the strength of AI: Artificial intelligence is powerful in recognizing patterns, as it can filter out the essentials from vast amounts of data.
AI-based pattern recognition makes it easy to track down any channels that are used to extract data. Artificial intelligence recognizes this kind of thing faster than human analysts so that AI-supported systems are ideally suited for real-time monitoring of IT systems. Machine learning – one of the most important sub-disciplines of artificial intelligence – enables the level of protection to be continuously optimized.
Morpheus, AI Framework From NVIDIA
With “Morpheus,” NVIDIA presented an AI-based framework at the “GTC21” conference, intended to improve the cybersecurity industry with AI-controlled automation. Security product providers should be able to develop developments that use AI to detect attacks immediately. With machine learning, Morpheus is supposed to react to threats or anomalies and identify, for example, unencrypted sensitive data and phishing attacks or malware. Morpheus could record threats or irregularities, and the AI framework could take appropriate measures.
The manufacturer NVIDIA advertises that the combination of Morpheus and Bluefield DPUs could make it possible to let every single computing node within the network function as a cyber defense sensor at the edge. This enables companies to analyze every data packet without data replication at the available performance speed – previously an impossibility because previous AI tools can generally only record around five percent of the network traffic data to then create detection algorithms based on incomplete models of this kind.
Artificial Intelligence And IT Security
A few years ago, when artificial intelligence could still be used as utopian or dystopian material for science fiction films, it was assumed that artificial intelligence would replace humans in time. This does not apply to cybersecurity: it cannot and must not be left exclusively to artificial intelligence.
However, humans and artificial intelligence form a team that can fight cyber threats more successfully than humans or machines alone. The threat situation changes almost every day: new attack methods and new weak points. The fact that AI has also made it to the side of cybercriminals makes humans plus artificial intelligence a good combination in cyber defense.