June 6, 2024

How Do Hackers Use AI?

Managed IT Services

5

Minutes to read

A new wave of AI-driven cyberattacks is destined to change how businesses manage their cybersecurity.

Managing a business on your own is challenging enough. Throw in the threat of a cyberattack, and now you’re looking at trouble.

Even worse, modern hackers use artificial intelligence (AI) to launch cyberattacks, stealing data and disrupting business operations.

“Stealthier attacks are being crafted by hackers using both artificial intelligence tools that have been on the market for a while and generative-AI chatbots that emerged last year,” said Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President for Customer Security and Trust at Microsoft. 1

Thankfully, there is good news.

The good news is there are steps your business can take to protect itself from these harmful AI-driven cyberattacks.

How Hackers Use AI

Hackers are using AI in many ways, weaving it into the types of attacks we’ve known about for years and creating new malware businesses have never experienced.

Here are just some of the ways cybercriminals are exploiting AI in their attacks:

Phishing Attacks

AI is significantly boosting spear-phishing attacks. Previously, spotting phishing attempts was more straightforward due to the abundance of grammar and spelling mistakes. Observant individuals could easily recognize these suspicious, unsolicited messages, often assuming they originated from non-English-speaking countries.

However, the introduction of AI tools, like ChatGPT, has changed the game. With AI's assistance, cybercriminals can craft emails with flawless grammar and language that mirrors a credible source.

The State of Phishing Report 2023 attributed a 1,265% rise in malicious phishing emails after ChatGPT was created – this rise in attacks primarily targeted business email compromises using AI tools.

Deepfakes

Just like phishing attacks, Hackers use AI to create highly realistic fake videos or audio recordings to impersonate someone you know, like a boss or trusted friend. These deepfakes can be used to trick you into sending money or sharing sensitive information.

As a result, it’s become increasingly challenging for users to differentiate between genuine communications and carefully crafted scams.

AI-Powered Password Cracking

With the help of AI, cybercriminals can effortlessly crack common and easy passwords. Hackers with access to advanced computation offered by AI can automate the breaching process to try millions of combinations to guess a password.

AI-Assisted Hacking

Hackers no longer have to spend hours looking for vulnerabilities in business systems. Instead, with the help of AI, they can create automated programs that can identify weaknesses in your business system.

In addition to using AI to easily penetrate businesses, hackers are using AI to create new, sophisticated, and highly effective malware, making their cyberattacks more potent and difficult to detect.

Supply Chain Attacks

Hackers use AI to insert malicious code into legitimate vendor products. This technique allows cybercriminals to compromise your business system by infiltrating trusted software or hardware with hidden malware.

As AI technology advances, it's crucial for businesses to stay one step ahead of these cyber threats and continuously adapt their defense strategies.

How to Protect Your Business From AI-Powered Cyberattacks

Back to the good news! There are proactive measures that your business can implement to safeguard itself against these dangerous AI-driven cyberattacks.

“It can be difficult to know if an attack is AI-driven without lots of forensic analysis, but almost all back-end attacks include scripting and code,” said Matt Cooke, Director of IT Operations at Clearview Group. “The best combat against attacks, with or without AI, is a multi-layered defense to reduce corporate risk and increase security posture.”

“The best combat against attacks, with or without AI, is a multi-layered defense to reduce corporate risk and increase security posture.”

Get started protecting your business by implementing these best practices:

  • Pay close attention to details that may indicate a potential threat.
  • Always use unique passwords.
  • Keep your systems updated.
  • Only accept downloads from trusted sources.

Pay Close Attention to Details that May Indicate a Potential Threat

When dealing with the possibility of deepfake videos or audio recordings, it’s essential to closely observe unnatural facial movements or sloppy voice synchronization. These subtle clues can signify a manipulated or AI-fabricated piece of content.

The same rules apply when dealing with the possibility of a phishing attack. Pay attention to any details in an unexpected message that could be a sign it’s an AI-created attack.

Always Use Unique Passwords

Your business should always use unique and strong passwords, simultaneously with two-factor authentication (2FA) or single sign-on (SSO), to protect sensitive information. Consider utilizing a password manager to securely store and manage your passwords, making it easier to create and maintain complex and unique login credentials for each account.

“SSO and 2FA are givens these days,” said Cooke. “The next easiest step in the security journey is implementing a security awareness program across all staff and having the executive level reinforcing staff to participate.”

Keep Your Systems Updated

Keep your security systems and software updated. Regular updates ensure that your defenses are equipped to handle the latest AI tactics used by cybercriminals. Additionally, it’s important to establish a regular schedule for scanning your business systems for vulnerabilities.

By conducting routine vulnerability scans, you can proactively identify and address any potential weak points in your business’s security posture before malicious actors can exploit them.

Only Accept Downloads from Trusted Sources

An important aspect of protecting your business online is downloading software from trusted sources. Installing programs only from reputable sources can minimize the risk of inadvertently downloading malware or other malicious software onto your devices.

AI-powered cyberattacks are growing and growing fast. Implementing the above best practices, along with partnering with a strong Managed IT Service provider, can be the ultimate protection against AI-driven cyberattacks.

Get started with a free consultation and learn how to best protect your business against AI-driven cyberattacks.

1 https://www.wsj.com/articles/hackers-with-ai-are-harder-to-stop-microsoft-says-42d94da2

Matt Cooke
Director
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