The influence of AI and ML across the cybersecurity space

The surge in AI and machine learning (ML) over recent years has enabled cybercriminals to initiate attacks with fewer resources and/or skills

As technology continues to develop at a rapid pace, so do the most common forms of cyberattacks.

Over the last ten years, there has been a surge in the adoption of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), with a growing number of businesses harnessing these technologies to streamline their processes and improve the quality of products and services.

When we look at cybersecurity, the rapid rate of technological advancement has posed a considerable challenge for companies to remain up to date with emerging threats and stay ahead of the curve. But just as businesses have quickly adopted digital transformation and new operational methods, their adversaries have done the same.

It seems that the ongoing influence of AI across the cybersecurity space has not just allowed cyber defenders to develop and expand their abilities, but also enabled cybercriminals to initiate attacks with fewer resources or skills. Significant concerns for cybersecurity have been raised due to the adoption of AI, relating to the numerous ways in which criminals can leverage AI for disruption and profit.

The positive and negative impacts of AI in cybersecurity

As with any innovation, AI is expected to have both positive and negative impacts on global culture. On the downside, it means that cybercriminals will be able to enhance their efficiency, sophistication, and scalability, enabling them to evade detection. 

On the flip side, AI offers the potential to benefit the defenders and law enforcement, countering illicit activities by automating data analysis, predictive detection, and more effective attribution of criminal actions.

As security leaders know, the threat landscape is always changing. BlackBerry’s Q2 2023 report analysed cybersecurity events from in March-May 2023, and states: “According to BlackBerry telemetry, these are the top industries with the highest distribution of cyberattacks that BlackBerry Cybersecurity solutions protected during this reporting period: financial institutions, healthcare services and equipment including hospitals, clinics, and medical devices, government/public entities, critical infrastructure.”

Why are these industries being targeted?

The report revealed that threat actors launched approximately 11.5 attacks per minute across a number of sectors, with the healthcare and financial sectors in particular being prime targets. This is due to the valuable information they possess; something which cybercriminals find lucrative for potential blackmail and identity theft.

Hospitals are frequently targeted, due to their essential systems. Threat actors are aware that hospitals cannot afford to be offline for extended periods of time, therefore target them in the hope that they will pay ransom quickly to get back online.

Despite being often isolated from other systems, the growing digitisation of critical infrastructure has exposed it to a number of vulnerabilities. Similar to the healthcare sector, critical infrastructure organisations need operations to continue running to prevent disaster, making them more inclined to consider paying ransoms to threat actors. As per the report, the United States encountered the highest number of critical infrastructure attacks, with India, Japan, and Ecuador following closely behind.

It goes without saying that in this digital day and age cybercrime is a growing problem that businesses cannot and should not ignore. To stay ahead of the curve, companies need to invest in the right people and technology and adopt a proactive approach to security, and by doing so, minimise the risk of cyberattacks and ensure the safety and security of their data and systems.


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