Very recently we saw how digital and new emerging technologies are being exploited by cyber criminals to manipulate any information or data. Organizations are adopting Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and other emerging technologies to increase productivity, revenue and benefit from getting real time insights for better decision making. Almost any big organization are using AI, ML, IoT or planning to implement same in near future. But the question which arises regarding cyber security and how criminals will be taking on with the help of advanced digital technologies.
Using artificial intelligence will enhance our cyber security preparedness or pose a threat is the question today. Hackers are also moving towards detection and eluding techniques to hide from various security solutions. On the other hand emerging technologies are also evolving techniques that can benefit the cyber space.
With remote working now being in norms since the Covid 19 pandemic, is also a golden opportunity of cyber criminals to take advantage. There are organizations that leveraged digital and advanced technologies and benefitted immensely but hackers are also on track leveraging these sophisticated technologies for their criminal activity.
How emerging technologies helping cyber criminals?
Through artificial intelligence it is possible to create fake video and audio messages that are incredibly difficult to distinguish the real ones, what we know as “Deep Fakes”.
Then we have the AI-generated “phishing” e-mails aiming to trick people into handing over passwords and other sensitive. Using this tool has been boon for cyber criminals in term of exploiting the financial systems. In recent times we have seen how hackers have been able to throw highly realistic fake video and audio into the mix, either to reinforce instructions in a phishing e-mail or as a standalone tactic.
Cybercriminals could also use the technology to manipulate stock prices by, say, posting a fake video of a CEO announcing that a company is facing a financing problem or some other crisis. Deepfakes could be used to spread false news in elections and to stoke geopolitical tensions.
“AI can help us parse signals from noise,” says Nate Fick, CEO of the security firm Endgame, but “in the hands of the wrong people,” it’s also AI that’s going to generate the most sophisticated attacks.
Now days every big or medium sized company are using cloud store their data. Businesses which provide cloud based servers to host others other companies’ data on their servers or manage clients IT systems remotely make tempting targets for hackers. By breaching these companies systems hackers can get access to those of client’s data. This is known as Cloudhopper by security experts, are already being used. Hackers are moving from desktop malware to data centre malware where there is significant scope for benifiting financially.
When asked what threats emerging technologies can have on our ecosystem Vishal R Bhatia, Head Infosec – Banking, FIS Global, says “Emerging technologies has shown some great results in threat Intelligence but it’s a battle between defence vs attack learning. Cybercriminals can exploit these technologies to study deep insights even before simulating an attack, e.g. understanding authentic patterns to develop fake images, voice, video, text & email a message that looks real ones.
Machine learning being on the powerful technologies, by using AI cybercriminals can adapt themselves to network policy, communication channels, port, protocols and datasets which will help them classify which information is valuable without making much noise. It helps achieve crafting in such a way that even If any anomaly is detected it should be considered as low risk thus remaining part of policy exception defeating organisations cyber defence”.
Vishal further says how AI driven attacks can be much more cost effective, efficient ,result oriented as defence systems are already considering it as part of normal pattern / exception policy hence it is important to have classification & supervision to identify malicious traffic before it become part of normal operations thereby becoming almost impossible to detect.
Guru Patnaik, Director Info Sec, at Zeotap says “with the ever-evolving technology and security landscape, it is imperative that we equip ourselves with a holistic framework to Detect, Identify, Protect, Respond and Recover from threats in a manner that would minimise business impact.
For starters, the use of Behavioural AI-based technologies in Incident/Event Log analysis and Anti Malware solutions enables security engineers to manage and handle the threats in a pre-emptive manner”.
Since cyber criminals are getting more and more adamant in their tactics, organizations need to be proactive on the Operational level but also at the Strategic levels says Aditya Mukherjee,VP, Synchrony, JSOC.
He elaborates this means once they should be open to the changes in the industry and not only identify them early on but also transform their business to enable them to be the early adopters.
For example, most organizations that had a comprehensive WFH model in place complemented with the support of sensible security (detection and prevention) controls and collaboration tools were sufficiently able to ride the COVID19 WFH wave and deliver uninterrupted services. On the other hand, traditional business setup, with rigid processes and technologies faced a world of trouble.
Aditya goes on to suggest a few understanding on adopting best practices which will help remain secured. The key here is being flexible and dynamic in your approach to the changing market requirement’s from an information security standpoint.
1. Provide a secure digital environment for your employees and customers.
2. Test and validate all technologies that you have in the production environment.
3. Conduct a thorough assessment of your business processes, technology, and people to identify gaps in the security posture and ensure that they are fixed with mitigating controls.
4. Look out for the latest threat campaigns and attacks, and ensure that you are adequately prepared to defend against them.
5. Most importantly, educate and train your employees on Best Practices for security and keep them up-to-date with the latest attacks observed so that they don’t become an attack vector leading to a compromise or breach. ”
(Image Courtesy: www. innovation.mit.edu)