Cybersecurity is one of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing industries. New tools introduce more simplified ways of dealing with cybersecurity strategies that individuals and companies have already executed. However, with emerging new technologies, systems and software also come the potential for new threats.
For example, according to a recent threat report conducted by Acronis, there was an incredible 464% rise in email-based attacks in the first half of 2023 compared with the same period the previous year.
Although it doesn’t mean that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is responsible for the sharp rise in cyberattacks, it is understood that emerging AI tech like ChatGPT has made it easy for cybercriminals to carry out far more sophisticated and successful phishing email scams. They are now far more common than ever and much easier for criminals to undertake.
Let’s go further down the rabbit hole and discover more of the hottest new developments in artificial intelligence and other cybersecurity tech trends that can easily be implemented to better protect your personal accounts and your organization/business from any new threats that may emerge.
AI poses unprecedented new levels of threat from cyberattacks
2023 has already proven to be the year of artificial intelligence, thanks to huge advancements in ground-breaking AI-powered technologies and innovations. One of the biggest artificial intelligence talking points in all the major news channels worldwide has been ChatGPT and other similar tools.
Almost anyone today who can connect to the internet can easily gain access to sophisticated AI-powered tools that can crawl through years of human-generated text and learning via pioneering intelligence models. They can even mimic human speech. Cybercriminals are already finding new ways to use the technology to help speed up their online scam campaigns. The tech also enables them to produce constantly-evolving phishing emails in almost any language and with hardly any additional labour.
Not only are cybercriminals using AI’s ability to mimic human speech to coordinate sophisticated cyberattacks. It’s also using the tech to automate them. They can even analyze their own unscrupulous systems using the built-in software to make their scams even better at tricking people. The new tech is now more likely to scam them out of their hard-earned cash or steal their personal details or preferred payment method details, which can then be sold on the black market for huge sums.
Scammers who use AI tools to their advantage to create malicious programs even have the ability inside these AI-powered programs to change their malware signatures, which makes them undetectable to anyone trying to track them. You can also now find automated scripts to make phishing emails and then send them out to people. It can then be used to check any data that has been stolen for user’s credentials.
Cybercriminals can now expand their operations to even bigger levels, thanks to the development of AI tools like machine learning (ML) and the efficient automation that it brings with it. This makes it nearly impossible for some people to protect themselves from phishing scams and other similar rogue tactics.
An intriguing new way these criminals carry out their attacks is by trying to reverse engineer the artificial intelligence programs they use. This can help them understand any flaws in the system and detect biases/weaknesses that help them create new attacks that no other models can detect. In other words, cybercriminals are now using AI to carry out attacks on artificial intelligence itself.
A major challenge is business emails being compromised
Artificial intelligence isn’t the only technology that’s rapidly advancing. The latest and most advanced email security controls can scan links to phishing sites. However, it’s not yet capable of doing the same with QR codes.
Therefore, it has caused an increasing number of cybercriminals to use QR codes to hide their malicious links. Also, malicious emails are beginning to use certain major cloud apps like Google Docs to send fake notifications to millions of users worldwide that tend to go unblocked.
Microsoft Office upped its game to counter the cybercriminals’ new techniques, which saw them shift their attention towards Microsoft OneNote files and link files. Companies today have also started shifting away from using VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) and more towards zero trust access, meaning all access requests must be authorized dynamically.
Companies also have the added ability to detect potential threats by carefully analyzing anomalies. It would allow users from almost any location to gain verifiable access without letting in any unwanted cybercriminals finding their way in The most common reason why companies fall prey to cyberattacks is due to simple human error because the person is not properly concentrating when opening emails or clicking or tapping on certain links or ads, or connecting to unsecured networks, etc.
There are some systems in place that let users know their passwords were stolen recently, say a week or so ago, which is handy, but being informed in real-time as soon as the password was compromised would be the much better solution.
Building a reliable defense through resiliency and simplicity
Although the chance of falling victim to a phishing scam is very real and higher than ever, there are many things you can do as an individual or for your company/organization to stay as safe as possible and prevent cybercriminals from getting the better of you.
Quite often, people and businesses of all sizes overcomplicate things using more cybersecurity tools than they need. This can sometimes create problems and allow them to gain access to sensitive data or carry out other attacks with relative ease.
According to recent findings, over 75% of companies reported at least one production system outage in the previous 12 months. However, around 42% of the cases were down to human error, and classic cyberattacks contributed to around 36% of the outages. That’s not all. Microsoft also recently discovered that around 80% of the ransomware attacks were caused by configuration errors.
By minimizing the number of specialist security companies involved in infrastructure, companies can save a great deal of time on training others in the latest versions of each cybersecurity tool. This also means they can reduce spending in certain areas, which can be spent on other important areas, and increase profit. When integration is implemented correctly, tools can be extremely effective.
Tread cautiously with all apps and any data they handle
Successful developments in behaviour-based analysis that examines and documents what tasks individual apps are designed to carry out on a system have also been done. This includes XDR (extended detection response) and EDR (endpoint detection response) tools, which help leaders collect larger amounts of data and visibility into a wide range of activities.
With that in mind, one of the most important things for leaders is awareness of each app on their system, all data that the app handles, and each network connection it carries out. At the same time, the necessary tools shouldn’t bombard them with an untold number of alerts they must manually analyze. Not only can this be a heavy burden, but it may also cause some real threats to be missed.
Things like artificial intelligence and machine learning can identify and eliminate false alerts, which gives cybersecurity engineers more time to focus on other actual threats. It’s also important that cybersecurity tools should be about more than just the standard security data.
One of the other areas that can help predict where threats may occur before they actually happen is the field of artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOPs) and observability.
Artificial intelligence not as a replacement, just a tool
Signature-based detection of cybersecurity threats on its own will not be enough to protect against the countless new malware threats discovered daily. Both machine learning and artificial intelligence behaviour-based solutions are also vitally essential. Cybersecurity protection is greatly enhanced if the right data and information is fed into the AI-powered system and tools. It can assess and identify potential threats far quicker and more precisely than a human could.
Therefore, leaders need to take full advantage of AI and ML tools before it’s too late. However, the human element, for the time being, is also still especially important. They can carry out many processes that AI and ML tools can’t. In that sense, artificial intelligence should be seen merely as a useful tool, not a replacement.
When systems have been carefully honed, today’s best AI and ML cybersecurity tools can save time and effort and help other important resources stretch much further. To sum up, the best way to stay ahead of cybercriminal attackers is to stay on top of your defense options and remain vigilant.
Preparation is key in the prevention and fight against global cybersecurity threats, and it should never be overlooked. Leaders must always stay on top of software vulnerabilities using things like MFA (multi-factor authentication) and get their hands on the necessary software and hardware tools, systems and inventory.
Offense is just as important as defense
Having a well-oiled defense is wonderful, but leaders should also be looking into how they will respond to incidents. One way they can do this is to stage the occasional drills to see if it’s possible for them to restore their most important servers should a cyberattack ever be successful. In other words, check that they have a system in place to get malicious emails out of their inboxes.
Once again, this is where preparation is critical, as well as remaining vigilant and not just thinking about defense, but offense too. As cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated in their nature, it’s always better to be safe than sorry by being ready for any potential threats. Remember that knowledge is key, and using simple things like common sense to keep credentials and accounts safe is just as important in the fight against global cybercrime.
The key to attaining ultimate cyber resilience on a personal level and for your organization is not over-complicating things that can end up being more of a hindrance.