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How AI is Transforming the Cybersecurity Landscape

artificial intelligence in cyber securityArtificial intelligence (AI) is an exciting frontier for businesses and, unfortunately, hackers. It is considered a highly beneficial tool for humankind. However, like humans, AI has a light and dark side to the force since both cybersecurity experts and malicious actors use AI to benefit their objectives and work.

While AI and machine learning algorithms significantly benefit midsize businesses, it is crucial for business leaders to know what is happening and how it impacts their business. A BlackBerry study shows that 82% of IT decision-makers will embrace AI-based cybersecurity tools in the next two years and almost half (48%) will invest before the end of 2023.

Forward-thinking businesses are executing plans to take advantage of what is available to benefit their business security. Darktrace, a multinational and leader in cybersecurity AI, revealed that their researchers observed a 135% increase in elaborate social engineering attacks at the beginning of this year. They noted that the increase corresponded with the adoption and increased use of ChatGPT. The increase in cyber threats is compelling many organizations' board of directors and management to prioritize the use of AI to combat potential security threats in real time because it is changing the future of cybersecurity. Mimecast surveyed companies and found that 92% say they plan to incorporate AI and machine learning (ML) into their cybersecurity efforts, as well 49% have already done so.

How Can Artificial Intelligence Strengthen Business Cybersecurity Efforts?

Companies are now using AI to strengthen business cybersecurity efforts to protect their network systems from next-gen cyberattacks. A Sky Quest estimate reflects that AI in the cybersecurity market is poised for a compound annual growth rate of 24.2%, and reach $94.3 billion by 2030. So, how is AI transforming cybersecurity for midsize businesses?

  • Accurate threat detection: AI helps by scanning vast amounts of data in business systems, making it easy to detect abnormalities and identify patterns that could lead to an imminent cyberattack. AI tools can identify threats that human intelligence and legacy cybersecurity systems may miss.
  • Improvement in security response time: AI cybersecurity tools can be tweaked and programmed to respond to potential threats automatically, reducing the time gap between detection and incident response. They can also help mitigate cyber risks better and prevent them from spreading.
  • Enhanced precision: The advantage of AI and ML is its accuracy and ability to adapt over time. As a result, it enhances the business’s efficiency in detecting and identifying potential threats and responding to them quickly and effectively.
  • Workload reduction: The use of ML and AI-powered systems can supplement the efforts of cybersecurity professionals and decrease their workload due to the higher levels of automation the technology introduces.

Do you want to improve intrusion detection, develop better threat intelligence and resilience, and perform automated mitigation of cyber risks? You are in the right place to learn more and connect with a managed security service provider (MSSP) that utilizes AI in cybersecurity. AI and ML can help continuously monitor network traffic, detect abnormalities, and promptly alert cybersecurity responders about potential threats and risks.

How Are Hackers Using AI to Attack and Target Midsize Businesses?

Malicious actors update their knowledge as technology advances as well. They also employ innovative AI tools to compromise network systems. AI makes it easier for threat actors to infiltrate cloud-based environments and target business enterprises. Below are how threat actors use AI-based methods to target midsize business entities:

  • Generate phishing emails: Malicious actors use widely available AI tools like ChatGPT to create phishing emails. For instance, malicious actors can jailbreak a LLM and enter a command prompt. It could be requesting an email to entice users into opening them and clicking on phishing websites or downloading malicious attachments, compromising their confidential and sensitive information. ChatGPT enables foreign hackers to generate grammatically error-proof emails in impeccable English that can bypass spam filters and trick victims.
  • Test malware against AI-based tools: As organizations build AI systems and tools to handle malicious attacks, threat actors can improve their ML environment and tweak their AI software and strategies to search for behaviors defenders look for. For example, ML models can observe the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) and modify the traits and indicators to subvert defenders relying on AI-based tools to identify cyber-attacks.
  • Map existing AI models: Cybersecurity tool providers develop AI models to detect and deal with cyberattacks. Now, adversaries try to remain ahead of the game by mapping existing AI models and developing their attack models accordingly. Hackers analyze the existing AI models used by cybersecurity firms and learn how they have trained their models. If someone knows how an AI model is trained, they can study and analyze the patterns, add bad data to mess up the AI model, or 'reverse-engineer' the model to understand its workings.
  • Poison AI with inaccurate data: Cyber attackers invent new ways to attack network systems. They use AI/ML to compromise network environments by poisoning existing AI models with inaccurate data. They introduce irrelevant and benign files and create patterns or behavior that produce false positives. This allows the attackers to trick the system. Besides, threat actors can corrupt or contaminate AI models by introducing the kinds of files and documents that AI training has certified as safe.
  • Conceal malicious codes in benign applications: Threat actors can use AI to conceal dangerous executable codes in benign applications programmed to execute at a specific time to cause maximum impact. Such types of malware usage could counter the technological advances made by cybersecurity solutions. However, concealing malicious codes requires the adversaries to gain access to control the system and time the execution perfectly.
  • Set AI triggers for executing cyberattacks: Malicious actors can tweak systems and predefine applications to set an AI trigger for launching cyberattacks. It can range from authentication processes like visual or voice recognition to other identity management processes. Since most systems have these features, it becomes convenient for threat actors to feed weaponized AI models, derive the keys, and attack network systems at will. Usually, they leave the systems dormant for extended periods before launching attacks when the applications are most vulnerable.
  • Mimic trusted system components: Adversaries use AI techniques to mimic trusted system components and improve stealth attacks. For instance, AI-enabled malware can automatically learn the organization’s network environment and preferred communication protocols to apply patches when the systems are most vulnerable. It enables malicious actors to launch untraceable attacks. One such example is the TaskRabbit attack that compromised 75 million users. Some other standard methods that threat actors use AI and ML to launch cyber attacks include:
      1. Using deepfake tools for impersonation and exploitation
      2. Leveraging machine learning for efficient password cracking
      3. Flooding the target email inbox with spam emails
      4. Neutralizing off-the-shelf security tools
      5. Using autonomous agents and launching reconnaissance attacks.

What You Need to Know About the Business of Hackers

Investing in AI and ML is expensive for hackers and becoming well-versed in the nuances of the technology is challenging. Thus people with a high-level expertise in the technology are few. Still, there are enough opportunities for malicious actors to attack information systems and remain undetected, thanks to vulnerable cybersecurity policies and frameworks in organizations. These attacks do not require adversaries to be proficient in using AI.

However, since businesses have started securing their systems using state-of-the-art AI technologies, cyber attackers are also working on more sophisticated methods to attack network systems if they want to make money. Hence, the number of threat actors with high AI proficiency could increase as businesses apply cybersecurity tools.

What Are the Next Steps For My Business?

Businesses must leverage AI to employ cybersecurity solutions that detect and respond to cyberattacks quickly and efficiently without human intervention. The following steps will enable CFOs and IT Managers to incorporate AI for cybersecurity in their business.

  • Implement user behavior and entity behavior analytics (UEBA): Business entities use AI for modeling and monitoring their end-user behavior. It assists in detecting abnormal activities in the information system and alerts cybersecurity admins or a security operation center (SOC) to take prompt action. It helps them identify takeover attacks wherein the malicious actors steal user credentials and use them to access network systems and commit fraud. AI helps the system learn specific user behavior and identify unusual behavior as anomalies and create alerts.
  • Using AI-integrated antivirus products: Midsize businesses need to be certain AI is incorporated in their antivirus products to detect system anomalies and take prompt action. Malware programs function differently from regular system operations, making it difficult for signature-based traditional antivirus programs to detect them. Therefore, it is essential to use AI-enabled antivirus solutions to detect and prevent such sophisticated attempts from accessing your machines and network.
  • Increasing automation: Data repositories have become massive, with almost all midsize businesses using the cloud environment to function online. Therefore, manual system monitoring and analysis are impossible. Besides, it leaves room for errors that threat actors can capitalize on. The solution is to increase automation of the network and system analysis to detect all types of unauthenticated intrusions.
  • Implementing email scanning: Usually, adversaries use the email route to introduce malware into network systems. Reports show that nearly 55% of received emails contain malicious links or attachments. Therefore, scanning emails before delivering them to the inbox can prevent these malicious emails from entering the system. AI can help in efficient email scanning to identify suspicious activities.

What AI Cybersecurity Tools Does CoreTech Offer Midsize Companies?

Your midsize business may not have the time, resources, or expertise to take on new cybersecurity initiatives or programs, but there are outsourced solutions. Consider hiring a managed security service provider (MSSP) to take care of your IT or cybersecurity needs. CoreTech is an MSSP doing business in the Omaha and Lincoln metro areas providing high-quality AI-based cybersecurity solutions to midsize businesses. We customize our services to meet your business needs and budget.

CoreTech uses AI-based tools like CoreCare | Detector, a security event monitoring tool that looks for anomalies in the network system’s general activity and threats on your network. This tool learns normal network behavior and alerts security managers of potential threats, such as:

  • Users logging into the system at unusual times
  • Users logging into the system using different computers
  • Newly added devices
  • Altered or escalated user credentials and permissions

In addition to CoreCare | Detector, CoreTech uses other AI cybersecurity tools to protect your business end users. Along with training, these tools create a comprehensive security program for your company. The enterprise-level tools and resources we maintain are continually evolving to capture new threats.

Are you ready to learn more? View the blog posts below or reach out to us and have a conversation.

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Topics: Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence