The Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Effective Cyber Attacks

October 15, 2020
Jeff Ahlerich

Artificial intelligence (AI) often reminds people of robots and machines performing tasks previously thought to be human-dependent. However, as with most things, there are two sides to the story and the reality is: AI is transforming the way we do business. Whereas AI is used by many individuals and businesses for good, it’s also being leveraged by cybercriminals for darker deeds.


Years of movies and TV shows have conditioned us to think of a cybercriminal as the stereotypical hooded individual in a dark room trying to gain access to a secure website or database. However, the truth is: Many cybercriminals today are much more sophisticated and hiding in plain sight. They are leveraging high-tech AI to do the heavy lifting. In fact, AI-assisted cyberattacks are rapidly increasing as more businesses undergo a digital transformation and shift their workforce to a remote or hybrid environment.


AI has the potential of applying machine learning and other techniques to solve real-world problems. As the name implies, machine learning leverages algorithms to essentially “learn” and improve with each task (or attempted task). However, in the hands of a cybercriminal, this means that machine learning can be used to attack a system, learn from the event, and improve on the next attack.


There’s also concern surrounding AI as a means for data poisoning. For example, bio-experiments are increasingly being run using AI technology. Should malware infect that technology, there could be significant damage to stocks of antibiotics, vaccines, and cell therapies – all of which could have serious consequences to society.


TaskRabbit, an online marketplace for laborers, found out first-hand the damage an AI-assisted cyberattack could cause. According to several reports, cybercriminals were responsible for a significant data security breach, resulting in exposed security numbers and bank information for 3.75 million TaskRabbit users.

The threat to businesses continues to rise. According to a recent study from the Capgemini Research Institute, “42% of executives surveyed reported an increase in incidents through time-sensitive applications and 43% noted an increase in machine-speed attacks.”


Data breaches are not only a nuisance, they are quite costly to your business. From reputation damage that could result in lost customers, and ultimately revenue, to damaged trust among employees that could result in decreased productivity or lost talent. But there’s obviously monetary costs to cybercrime as well. According to IBM’s Cost of Data Breach Report, the average total cost of a data breach is now $3.86 million, with the most expensive data breach in the U.S. clocking-in at $8.64 million!

There is good news, however! Businesses that implement AI to help fight against cybercrime realize a decrease in costs by $230,000. Investing in AI does have tremendous potential to save businesses money.


When it comes to fighting back against AI-assisted cyberattacks, many businesses are relying on support from, you guessed it, AI! Cyberattacks using AI are increasingly deceptive and sophisticated, making it more difficult than ever to identify risks and stay on the offense against these criminals. However, AI can be taught to identify malware and viruses, providing a critical line of defense for your organization. And, when properly implemented, the technology is extremely effective in detecting and preventing AI induced cyberattacks!

You may be asking yourself, “what’s wrong with using my existing security system? It’s designed to detect deviances in normal behavior and identify potentially malicious activity.” While that may be true, this year’s pandemic has certainly thrown a wrench in that system as just about everyone is breaking the mold of their once “normal” behaviors, causing security systems to throw alerts at even the most non-threatening changes in behavior. The solution many businesses have opted for (or soon will) is adopting an AI system to learn, adapt, and continually defend against new and evolving cyberattacks.

AI has certainly taken the business world by storm over the last several years, and cybercriminals are taking advantage. Be prepared to protect your business by fighting AI-assisted cybercrime with your own AI protection.

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