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The advantages and disadvantages of Artificial Intelligence in Cyber Security

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The advantages and disadvantages of Artificial Intelligence in Cyber Security

In a field like cybersecurity, where a company’s operational integrity depends on their ability to detect, protect, respond, and govern data from root to stem, it is no surprise that machine learning and artificial Intelligence in cyber security would rise to great prominence.

It was always inevitable that Machine Learning (ML) and/or Artificial Intelligence (AI) in cyber security would be used given that; one, the cyber-battlefield is fierce, fast, and ruthless, and two, the sheer volume of attacks that companies must fend off daily.

ML/AI in cybersecurity can predict and fend of attacks, free up employees for more complex tasks while offering integral assistance in vulnerability management, and scan endlessly larger incoming data more quickly and accurately than any human.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen a sharp rise in cybercrimes overall. While the most well-known of it began and ended during the first year of the pandemic, there has been a steady threat lurking in the cybersphere since.

This can be owed to many factors, including the increased digital adoption through remote work and contactless solutions, and the overall surge in digital transformation. This of course accentuated the already severe shortage of cybersecurity professionals.

AI can process enormous quantities of data and filter out all the outlying issues to be examined by professionals of the field. A cyber security team, given the shortage of talent in the cybersecurity field, would be hard pressed to assess a fraction of that amount.

With the emergence of smart cities, automated factories, farms, and mines, as well as the digital first approach to businesses and consumers, no amount of manpower can sustain a long-term security strategy, less so as time moves forward.

The scale of data creation today, 2.5 quintillion bytes per day according to Statista, helps the teaching process tremendously. AI’s ability to use machine learning can give it an edge against hackers who might modify and re-release a previously unsuccessful cyberattack, especially since AI can learn over time and adapt its findings to a new situation.

When something out of the ordinary happens or an unfamiliar threat targets a company, cyber-AI has a better chance of detecting it as a threat, and responding accordingly, more quickly. The AI has learned what threats look like and can identify similarities that a human might miss.

So, AI does what AI does, and takes care of the bulk donkey work while the professionals are given more time to tend to their responsibilities that require some innovative and intuitive thinking to solve.

Artificial Intelligence in cyber security is also the best suited for the coming spike in biometric data, which is a method of identity authentication that is fast replacing passwords.

Weak passwords are responsible for around 80 percent of all cyberattacks taking place according to ID Agent, Cybersecurity and Digital Risk Protection Solutions Company, and so coming into the new era of authentication, AI will surely play a larger role in the coming decades.

The thing about ML/AI, as the abbreviation suggests, is that it learns over time, and not just from its own database, but any database it is connected to no matter how large. As a self-learning system that takes from the massive pools of data and teaches itself, but there is a major dark side to this reality.

Challenges of AI in cyber security

As with all arms races, however, defensive, and offensive capabilities tend to evolve in parallel. As companies fortify their data and sharpen their skills in detection, protection, and response, cybercriminals continue to develop tricks of their own, and bring their own big machine-learning guns into the fight.

AI can be used by hackers to conduct far more sophisticated attacks more quickly and can apply machine learning techniques to create more effective attack models. It can study its target much like the defenders.

It is entirely possible for a hacker to corrupt or position the AI’s data bases tricking the AI into passing up a threat as safe or vice versa.

Biometric authentication can be stolen and copied; a crime known as “spoofing” in cybersecurity. One can’t just change a fingerprint it or eye color, let alone their face, as much as some celebrities would disagree.

At the most recent RSA Conference, Hugh Thompson, CTO of  Symatec, outlined how a hacker used Deep Fake technology to impersonate a company CEO’s voice and steal millions of dollars from right under employees’ noses. In a remote working environment, a quick phone call with an authoritative tone might be all a hacker needs to cash in big.

While this example is on the tip of the iceburg as other hackers use automated attacks, AI powered phishing campaigns, and far-reaching ransomware attacks.

Perhaps the future of artificial intelligence in cyber security looks like two massive  artificial brains battling it out until someone loses their bank account. A world of Good AI and Bad AI seems like a scary one, especially at the speed scale and stake of everything.

AI is truly the future of our species. It is a beautiful thing to imagine all the abundance that we can enjoy when humanity’s relationship with AI settles into a symbiotic relationship like that between a bee and a flower. Until then, hold onto your hats, because the robots are fighting it out.

Junior social media strategist with a degree in media and communication. Technology enthusiast and freelance writer. Favorite hobby: 3D modeling.

Cybersecurity

Panasonic confirms cyber breach to its access data

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Japanese manufacturing titan, Panasonic, confirmed Friday its network has been infiltrated by a cyberattack directed at its access data, on November 11, by gaining entry via third party.

In its statement, the company revealed that “some data on a file server had been accessed during the intrusion.”

This marks the only information publicized by the tech manufacturing giant. However, homegrown publications Mainichi and NHK alleged the breach was initiated June 22 and terminated November 23.

“After detecting the unauthorized access, the company immediately reported the incident to the relevant authorities and implemented security countermeasures, including steps to prevent external access to the network,” Panasonic said in its statement.

“In addition to conducting its own investigation, Panasonic is currently working with a specialist third-party organization to investigate the leak and determine if the breach involved customers’ personal information and/ or sensitive information related to social infrastructure,” it added.

In parallel, NHK disclosed that the breached servers contained data about Panasonic business partners and the manufacturer’s own technology, adding that a previous cyberattack directed at a subsidiary also obtained personal business data.

Panasonic also stated that aside from directing its own probe into the matter, the company is also seeking experts’ assistance by working with a third-party establishment to examine all aspects of the cyberattack. This will help the entity identify whether the infiltration was directed towards clients’ personal data.

“We cannot predict whether it will affect our business or business performance, but we cannot deny the possibility of a serious incident,” the Japanese titan said told one of the publications on Friday.

Earlier in March, Panasonic joined forces with cyber security company McAfee to institute a cybersecurity operations center (SOS) to address the rising risks of these attacks on its infrastructure. The pact will prioritize and strictly focus on detection and response.

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Cybersecurity

Apple suing Israeli hacker-for-hire company NSO Group

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Tech giant Apple announced Tuesday it is suing Israel’s NSO Group, seeking to block the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire company from breaking into Apple’s products, like the iPhone.

Apple said in a complaint filed in federal court in California that NSO Group employees are “amoral 21st century mercenaries who have created highly sophisticated cyber-surveillance machinery that invites routine and flagrant abuse.” Apple said NSO Group’s spyware, called Pegasus, had been used to attack a small number of Apple customers worldwide.

“State-sponsored actors like the NSO Group spend millions of dollars on sophisticated surveillance technologies without effective accountability. That needs to change,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering.

NSO Group has broadly denied wrongdoing and said its products have been used by governments to save lives.

“Pedophiles and terrorists can freely operate in technological safe-havens, and we provide governments the lawful tools to fight it. NSO group will continue to advocate for the truth,” the company said in a statement.

It’s the latest blow to the hacking firm, which was recently blacklisted by the U.S. Commerce Department and is currently being sued by social media giant Facebook.

Security researchers have found Pegasus being used around the world to break into the phones of human rights activists, journalists and even members of the Catholic clergy.

Pegasus infiltrates phones to vacuum up personal and location data and surreptitiously controls the smartphone’s microphones and cameras. Researchers have found several examples of NSO Group tools using so-called “zero click” exploits that infect targeted mobile phones without any user interaction.

The Biden administration announced this month that NSO Group and another Israeli cybersecurity firm called Candiru were being added to the “entity list,” which limits their access to U.S. components and technology by requiring government permission for exports.

Also this month, security researchers disclosed that Pegasus spyware was detected on the cellphones of six Palestinian human rights activists. And Mexican prosecutors recently announced they have arrested a businessman on charges he used the Pegasus spyware to spy on a journalist.

Facebook has sued NSO Group over the use of a somewhat similar exploit that allegedly intruded via its globally popular encrypted WhatsApp messaging app. A U.S. federal appeals court issued a ruling this month rejecting an effort by NSO Group to have the lawsuit thrown out.

Apple also announced Tuesday that it was donating $10 million, as well as any damages won in the NSO Group lawsuit, to cybersurveillance researchers and advocates.


RICHMOND, Va. (AP)

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Cybersecurity

Thousands of Phone Numbers Compromised During Robinhood Hack

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Popular investment and trading platform Robinhood stated that “limited information” had been stolen during a cyber-attack targeting the company last week but highlighted that among them were thousands of personal phone numbers.

Robinhood said on Tuesday, that the list obtained by the hackers, which contained email addresses for about five million people and full names for a different group of roughly two million people, included “several thousand entries” with phone numbers.

While the company failed to reveal how many phone numbers were on the list, Motherboard reported that it’s about 4,400.

Motherboard got a copy of the stolen phone numbers “from a source who presented themselves as a proxy for the hackers.” In a statement, Robinhood did not confirm whether the phone numbers Motherboard had obtained, were authentic but did acknowledge that the stolen information included thousands of phone numbers.

However, the blog added: “We continue to believe that the list did not contain Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, or debit card numbers and that there has been no financial loss to any customers as a result of the incident. We’ll continue making appropriate disclosures to affected people.”

The company added: “After we contained the intrusion, the unauthorized party demanded an extortion payment. We promptly informed law enforcement and are continuing to investigate the incident with the help of Mandiant, a leading outside security firm.”

On his side, Robinhood Chief Security Officer Caleb Sima said, “As a Safety-First company, we owe it to our customers to be transparent and act with integrity.”

“Following a diligent review, putting the entire Robinhood community on notice of this incident now is the right thing to do,” he noted.

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