Artificial Intelligence (AI), humanity’s dream of imbuing machines with life and reasoning, has long ceased to be a subject for scientific debate and more of a reality that is gradually starting to take shape.
Everything we use online today is being managed by artificial intelligence. The newsfeed you browse each day is the result of an AI learning your preferences in order to give you only the most relevant articles. The same applies to video streaming apps and even online stores. However, one of the toughest challenges AI faces is related to cybersecurity. In this article, we’re going to discuss the role of AI in the unseen world of cybernetic crime.
Is AI the Masked Vigilante We Needed?
Everything related to cybersecurity and AI sounds like something climbing out of a comic book – the masked vigilante, locked in an endless fight against all those who just want to see the online world burn. However, in order to win this fight, our ‘superhero’ must learn, adapt and become stronger and faster.
AI is, without a doubt, the most reasonable step to be taken in the fight against cyber aggressions – DoS, DDoS, fake wireless access points, email phishing, keylogging, clickjacking and the infamous ransomware. Still, despite AI being hailed as the savior of the online world, we need to keep in mind that this technology can also be used to wreak havoc.
The Dilemma of AI vs AI
Online security companies employing powerful AI and machine learning techniques to identify and deal with cybercrime are faced with a very interesting dilemma – how can our good guy AI fight against his evil twin? Unfortunately, this is not some fantastic doomsday scenario dreamt up by some washed up sci-fi novelist – it’s something that’s already happening.
According to cybersecurity experts, WannaCry, a ransomware crypto worm that managed to infect and paralyze a vast number of North American and European networks in May 2017, will be able to move and cripple systems faster. An ‘evil’ AI can identify and exploit security vulnerabilities quicker than any human hacker is capable of. The results of such actions can potentially have disastrous consequences, since countering it takes time and, not to mention, another AI that must track and learn the moves of the AI gone rogue.
Remember the chess scene from Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows? On the balcony overlooking Reichenbach Falls, Sherlock uses his powers of deduction and observation to predict the outcome of a fistfight with Moriarty. However, as the scene reveals, his archnemesis possesses the same intellectual prowess to play the battle scene in his mind. This scene, albeit a tad dramatic, actually mirrors what will happen when one AI faces another in a battle of wits.
Indeed, cybercrime is the new evil of the century, but is AI enough to stem the tide? Even the most experienced security expert wouldn’t be able to answer this question since the digital world is forever-changing. Major technical advancements like cloud migration/integration make things even harder to manage/keep under control, not to mention safeguarding it.
AI Is More Efficient than Humans
It’s more than obvious that with so much data being stored and processed every second of every waking day, there’s a great need for increased protection, and such a feat cannot be achieved by human management alone. It’s not only an exercise in futility, but entire teams dedicated to searching for potential cybercriminals would be a waste of resources.
Only artificial intelligence is fast enough to process that much data and to keep an eye out for any signs of intrusion. Of course, there’s more to AI’s role in cybersecurity than identifying, labeling and rooting out evildoers. Machine Learning (ML) in AI can also help digital product providers identify and patch major software vulnerabilities that could put their customers at risk.
The same ensemble of algorithms can also serve to protect us from what we know as harmful content. Remember the last time you had to report a Facebook post of something you found offensive/demeaning/gory? It now falls into the hands of ML-powered AI which searches through the millions of things posted each day in order to identify and root out the content you don’t want to read about or see.
As you can see, there’s more to cybersecurity than hacking and creating defense plans. Each megabyte of information stored has to be protected. That tiny amount of data could represent sensitive information such as your credit card’s PIN, health records or even your home address, and you wouldn’t want those falling into the wrong hands.
Cristopher Burge is a very passionate writer with a master’s degree in information technology, specialized in network management and defense. His biggest passion is, of course, technology. He loves researching and writing about it because he believes that it should be our ally. On his website, Cloud Storage Advice, you can find more detailed information about online storage, reviews and hot trends.