Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies like ChatGPT have been top of mind in 2023. This fact shouldn’t surprise anybody as these technologies can boost any business’s efficiency and productivity, automating its content creation or data analysis. Of course, as long as you use these tools securely.
What does that mean exactly? Well, AI models, especially the ones that are free, can pose security risks for your business and data, such as data breaches, privacy issues or copyright infringement.
In the world of cyber crime, AI has definitely become an increasingly popular tool. In recent years, hackers have started to use the powerful functionalities of these technologies to exploit business vulnerabilities. And most companies have started adopting the latest AI tools without thinking of the risks this technology can pose.
Now, in case you have already started using such tools and want to know more about the most important security risks posed by AI, or how you can protect your business against it, read on.
What security risks have been introduced by AI tools?
It’s true, AI has revolutionized our world, from the work environment to our lifestyle and the way we interact with technology. But, as it happens with all innovations, it has also introduced new security risks. The next ones are some of the most important risks in our opinion.
Most AI systems need access to large amounts of your data for training and operation, and this data can contain sensitive information.
If your data is not properly secured, it can be exploited or stolen by unauthorized individuals, leading to privacy breaches.
Adversarial attacks are a type of attack that involves manipulating the data added to an AI system that can cause it to misclassify or make incorrect decisions. These types of attacks can be difficult to detect and defend against.
For example, minor edits to an image, which are unnoticeable to humans, can cause an AI model to misclassify it.
AI-powered cyber attacks
Yes, you read that correctly. AI can be used to automate and power cyber attacks. For example, it is possible to use AI for more effective phishing attacks, malware distribution, and data breaches, or to bypass security systems.
As with cyber attacks, AI can also be used to create autonomous weapons that can make decisions without any human intervention. This could in turn lead to unexpected consequences and could raise ethical concerns.
Deepfakes and disinformation
As we already witnessed on social media this year, AI can be used to create realistic fake videos, images, audio, or text (known as deepfakes). All of these can be used to spread disinformation or commit fraud.
Lack of transparency
In many cases, it’s difficult to understand how AI models make decisions, that’s why we call them “black boxes”. This lack of transparency can make it challenging to detect when an AI system has been compromised or is behaving unexpectedly.
Like any other software, AI systems are vulnerable to human error too. Misconfigurations or poor coding practices can lead to security vulnerabilities within AI systems.
These risks need to be managed carefully as AI technology continues to develop and integrate into more aspects of life.
Now, let’s see how exactly hackers and cyber criminals can use AI and machine learning in their attacks.
How can hackers use AI in their cyber attacks?
Phishing and spam – It seems that AI-generated phishing emails, texts and websites are harder to spot as fake. More and more hackers use AI to make phishing content more personalized and therefore more convincing.
Password cracking – AI-based password cracking tools can guess passwords much faster by learning patterns from large datasets of real passwords.
Malware evasion – Malware authors use generative AI models to produce malware variants that pass through traditional antivirus software.
Deepfakes – Hackers are exploring the use of deepfakes (AI-generated fake media) for social engineering attacks and spreading misinformation.
Adaptive cyber attacks – AI planning and reinforcement learning techniques allow cyber attacks to become more intelligent and adaptive to network defenses.
Customized cyber attacks – Hackers are now experimenting with AI systems that can generate customized cyber attacks for a specific business or for an individual based on their digital profiles and vulnerabilities.
AI-based social engineering – Chatbots and virtual assistants powered by AI conversational models can be developed for advanced social engineering and human hacks.
So, how can you stay protected against all these?
How to protect your business against AI security threats?
It’s clear that AI can be a tremendous tool for your business when utilized correctly. However, if misused, it can present significant security threats.
As we showed already, hackers have already found quite a few ways to use the generative capabilities, adaptivity, customization and conversational features of AI models to make their attacks more effective, and hard to detect.
So, if you want your business to stay protected against these AI security threats, here’s what you need to do.
Implement strong security measures
The first step is to set in place the right security tools. This can include firewalls, encryption, intrusion detection systems, and other security software that can help detect and prevent breaches.
Always make sure that all your systems are up-to-date and regularly patched to address any security vulnerabilities.
Educate your team about AI risks
Then the next step to protecting your business is to ensure that your team knows the potential threats posed by AI. You can do this through regular security training sessions that help them understand more about these threats and also learn how to identify and respond to them.
Use AI for defense
Even though AI can be used for malicious purposes, that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to enhance your security too.
There are many efficient AIR tools that can help detect unusual patterns in your network traffic, identify potential threats, and respond quickly to breaches.
Conduct risk assessments
It’s essential to regularly conduct risk assessments that can help you identify potential vulnerabilities in your systems and processes.
Once you identify vulnerabilities, you should always take additional steps to manage and mitigate these risks.
Develop an incident response plan
A strong incident response plan is also important, as this can help you be prepared when or if a breach occurs. This should outline the steps you need to take in the event of a security breach, for example, how to contain the breach, assess the damage, and notify affected parties.
Have third-party audits
Having your security systems and procedures regularly audited by a third party ensures they are up to standard and can also identify any potential weaknesses.
Protect your data
Make sure you limit access to your business-sensitive information, ensuring it’s encrypted both at rest and in transit. That can be done by implementing strong access controls and using multi-factor authentication.
Cyber threats evolve constantly, and so should your defense systems and tools. One important way you can deal with new and emerging cyber threats is by regularly updating and upgrading your security systems.
As you can see, securing your business against AI threats should involve a multi-layered strategy, one that combines proactive measures, strong security systems, and continuous monitoring and updates. If you want our help securing your business against AI security risks, let’s talk.
And remember, the goal is to make it as difficult as possible for attackers to breach your defenses, and be able to respond quickly and efficiently when a breach does occur.