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The Rise of AI-Empowered Cybercrime

The past decade has seen a major increase in the adoption of machine learning and artificial intelligence. More and more organizations are using these technologies to automate their operations and improve their products and services.

robot at computer, guy Fawkes hacker

Although machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) have been used by organizations for some time, many people have only recently interacted with these technologies in the form of generative AI, which can generate text, code, images, and other digital assets with limited input. The popularity of ChatGPT has helped to raise awareness of AI, leading to a growing interest in its development.


Like any innovation, AI is expected to have both positive and negative effects on society. In the context of cybercrime, AI has the potential to be used for both good and evil. On the one hand, AI can help criminals to streamline their operations, making them more efficient, sophisticated, and scalable. This can make it more difficult for law enforcement to detect and track them. On the other hand, AI can also be used by defenders to develop new tools and techniques for combating cybercrime.


1. Cybercrime, Enhanced

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly evolving and becoming more sophisticated. This is having a significant impact on the cybercrime landscape, as criminals are increasingly using AI to automate their operations and develop more sophisticated attacks.


One of the ways that AI is benefiting cybercriminals is by reducing the need for human involvement. For example, AI can be used to automate tasks such as developing malware, creating phishing emails, and conducting social engineering attacks. This can help criminals to save time and resources, and it can also make it more difficult for law enforcement to track them down.

AI is also being used by cybercriminals to analyze large amounts of data. This data can include things like leaked passwords, credit card numbers, and social media profiles. By analyzing this data, criminals can identify potential targets and vulnerabilities. This information can then be used to launch more targeted and effective attacks.

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Another way that AI is benefiting cybercriminals is by making it easier to spread disinformation. AI can be used to create deepfakes, which are videos or audio recordings that have been manipulated to make it look or sound like someone is saying or doing something they never said or did. Deepfakes can be used to spread misinformation or to damage someone's reputation.


Finally, AI is being used by cybercriminals to develop more sophisticated malware. This malware can be self-replicating, self-encrypting, and even self-healing. This makes it very difficult for security solutions to detect and remove.

2. AI Use By Both Sides

It is important to note that the AI use cases discussed in this blog vary in complexity. Some can be achieved using readily available AI-enabled tools, while others require advanced technical skills, costly infrastructure, and significant time investment.


Here are some specific examples of how AI is being used by criminals and defenders:

Criminals

Defenders

AI used to create more sophisticated phishing emails that are more likely to trick users into clicking on malicious links.

AI used to identify and block phishing emails more effectively.

AI used to develop malware that is more difficult to detect and remove.

AI used to detect and remove malware more effectively.

AI used to automate tasks such as account takeover and fraud.

AI used to automate tasks such as threat intelligence and incident response.

3. How AI Can Combat Cybercrime

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is a powerful tool that can be used to combat cybercrime. Here are some of the ways that AI is being used to fight cybercrime:

  • Threat detection and prevention: AI can be used to analyze large amounts of data to identify potential threats. This data can include things like network traffic, system logs, and user behavior. AI can then be used to develop models that can predict when and where attacks are likely to occur. This information can then be used to take steps to prevent attacks, such as blocking malicious traffic or quarantining infected devices.

  • Incident response and forensics: AI can be used to automate the analysis of large amounts of data during an incident response investigation. This can help to speed up the investigation process and identify patterns that may be difficult to detect manually. AI can also be used to reconstruct attack events, which can help to identify the attackers and their methods.

  • Attribution: AI can be used to attribute cyber attacks to specific actors. This can be done by analyzing data such as attack tools, techniques, and procedures. AI can also be used to track the movement of malicious code, which can help to identify the attackers' infrastructure.

  • Predictive analytics: AI can be used to predict future cyber threats. This can be done by analyzing historical data and identifying patterns that may indicate future attacks. This information can then be used to take steps to mitigate the risks, such as patching vulnerabilities or implementing security controls.

The use of AI to combat cybercrime is still in its early stages, but it is a promising area of research. As AI technology continues to develop, it is likely to play an increasingly important role in the fight against cybercrime.


Here are some examples of how AI is being used to combat cybercrime today:

  • Cisco Secure Endpoint: This AI-powered security solution uses machine learning to detect and mitigate suspicious behavior on end hosts.

  • Cisco Umbrella: This AI-powered security solution uses machine learning to detect and block malicious traffic at the edge of the network.

  • Google's DeepMind Threat Protection: This AI-powered security solution uses machine learning to detect and prevent malware attacks.

  • IBM's Watson for Cyber Security: This AI-powered security solution uses machine learning to automate security tasks and improve threat detection.

These are just a few examples of how AI is being used to combat cybercrime today. As AI technology continues to develop, it is likely that we will see even more innovative and effective ways to use AI to fight cybercrime.

4. Your Next Steps

The use of AI in cybercrime is still in its early stages, but it is likely to become increasingly sophisticated in the years to come. It is important for organizations to be aware of the potential risks and take steps to protect themselves.


Here are some tips for organizations to protect themselves from AI-enabled cybercrime:

  • Invest in security solutions that use AI.

  • Train employees on how to identify and avoid phishing emails and other scams.

  • Keep software up to date.

  • Implement strong security controls, such as multi-factor authentication.

  • Monitor your network for suspicious activity.


The Fractional Information Security Officers (FISOs) at Webcheck Security can assist you in prioritizing your security efforts, advise on best practices for building out an effective security program, and guide your organization in addressing security to better position you in the marketplace. Contact us today to set up a free initial discussion of how we can serve you!

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