How Hackers Use AI and How to Stay Safe

The basics of modern artificial intelligence (AI) were established decades ago. However, this technological advancement had few practical uses up until the mid-2000s. 

Only in the last decade the number of real-life applications of AI has skyrocketed. But they do not always use this versatile resource for the right cause.

 

hackers-use-ai

 

In this article, she’ll share how hackers and other cybercriminals use AI in their criminal activities. Also, we will go over 3 notorious security breaches that involved artificial intelligence. 

Finally, we’ll discuss the positive impact of AI and provide tips to mitigate attacks that utilize this type of technology

 

How Do Hackers Use AI?

Before going any further, let’s briefly discuss the definition of artificial intelligence. In short, AI is a type of digital technology that aims to duplicate the critical thinking and problem-solving skills of humankind.

There are a few different forms of AI. But, the most common type used in most everyday applications is called machine learning or ML. 

In the right settings, AI and ML help us power software. The software that analyzes large data sets and makes decisions based on this information.

Likewise, hackers and other cybercriminals can also use AI to perform illegal activities.

Some of the known ways that hackers use AI include:

  • Build better viruses and other forms of malware;
  • Conduct stealth attacks;
  • Launch data poisoning attacks;
  • Abuse insider behavior analysis;
  • Design and launch phishing campaigns;
  • Crack passcodes and CAPTCHA verifications;
  • Power penetration testing tools;
  • Utilize ML-based frameworks for hacking hosts;
  • Create deepfake content used to perform complex forms of fraud.

 

Notorious Uses of AI in Cyberattacks

There are many examples of high-profile hacks and cyberattacks powered by artificial intelligence. 

Let’s review a few of them. 

 

TaskRabbit

In 2018, the freelance collaboration platform TaskRabbit was hacked, affecting some 3.75 million users. Hackers managed to obtain social security details as well as bank account details, representing a massive breach.

Cybercriminals overloaded the system using a DDoS attack, which featured zombie websites controlled by AI. In short, the artificial intelligence platform took control of these sites and used them to overload the network in order to weaken the security system.

 

WordPress

WordPress powers more than half of all active websites. But, this didn’t protect the platform from cyberattacks. 

One of the most effective attacks, an AI botnet, managed to infect over 20,000 websites and potentially steal personal information from thousands of users. 

 

Instagram

AI attacks are a significant threat to websites and applications. Yet, these are only some of the types of platforms that can succumb to artificial intelligence attacks. 

Instagram is among the most popular social media platforms today. But, in 2019, it was part of a much less select group: an AI cyberattack breached platforms.

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In this instance, hackers used AI to exploit a bug in Instagram’s code. Because of the attack, user passwords were displayed on the platform without masking or encryption, creating a huge security breach. 

 

AI Is Not the Problem – It’s Part of the Solution

It’s easy to blame AI and its pioneers for the negative impact of this technology. 

That said, it’s important to note that AI technology was developed to improve efficiency and contribute to better performance in fields like marketing. Moreover, AI is used for various digital processes necessary to create a safe and secure environment.

Below, we’ll share some of the ways that AI has improved cybersecurity levels across the board. 

  • Detect anomalies among large data sets;
  • Improve accuracy of fraud detection systems;
  • Meet compliance and assess risks;
  • Mitigate the impact of bots;
  • Discover and categorize data safely;
  • Simulate breaches and attacks;
  • Identify weaknesses in the security system;
  • Automate policy creation and updating;
  • Orchestrate the different security features;
  • Analyze behavioral metrics.

 

How to Stop Hackers Use AI to Conduct Attacks

Some projections suggest that cybercriminal activities will have a global cost of more than $10 trillion by 2025. There’s a strong chance that AI will power many of those attacks in some way. 

The good news is that there are many steps you can take to protect yourself against AI attacks. Let’s take a look at some of the options you have available.

 

The Basics

There are many basic steps you can take to help protect your brand, business, and customers, as well as your own personal data. 

Some of these best practices include:

Team member education

It’s always easier for team members to take risks seriously. And prepare for them if they understand the threat. 

Consider organizing training sessions specifically designed to inform your team about the danger of AI in cybercrime. This will help your team develop awareness around the dangers of AI attacks. It will also encourage them to proactively adopt security best practices. 

Virtual private networks

A virtual private network or VPN is a tool that allows you to connect to the internet using an encrypted connection. 

Simply put, a VPN creates a secure environment. There your data can’t be seen, intercepted, edited, or otherwise tampered with by hackers. This can render many of AI’s features futile, like the ability to create deepfakes. 

There are many different VPN providers. So you should compare your options and choose the one best suited to your needs.

The VPN app download process is slightly different for each provider. So, don’t be afraid to reach out to your provider if you encounter issues at any point. 

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Firewalls and other safety features

Implementing password managers, firewalls, and other standard security features on your devices is always a good idea. Additionally, consider creating backups in case of a security breach. Also, ensure that any client information is also being closely guarded.

 

Advanced Tactics 

If you want to take precautions, there are also advanced tactics that you can rely on to create a safe environment. These include:

Vulnerability management

The process of assessing, reporting, and adjusting security weaknesses in a company is known as vulnerability management. An ongoing process, vulnerability management is a great way to ensure great security across systems, departments, and endpoints. 

Network security

Hackers can target any access point in your network. So it’s essential to have great security across the board. 

Network security best practices allow for the creation of a robust infrastructure that protects against hackers and other cybercriminals. In addition to thwarting theft attempts, a solid network infrastructure can prevent misuse. It can also completely revoke access from unauthorized individuals. 

Equipment administration

In the cybersecurity context, equipment administration and management is the process of protecting physical assets from potential vulnerabilities. 

This includes steps like securing company servers, protecting employee devices, and managing other critical assets. While getting the most from your technology stack.

 

Conclusion on Cases When Hackers Use AI

Criminals use every tactic in their arsenal to commit fraud. AI is no exception. 

Whether you’re a webmaster, business owner, or security-conscious individual, you should take steps to protect your data from this type of attack. 

You should be able to create a safe environment. Also, you should minimize your chances of being targeted by following best practices, like the tips listed in this piece.