Cyber security has been an issue ever since organizations started embracing internet connections. However, the threat landscape has continued to evolve as organizations have progressively added their strategic manufacturing equipment into mix to capitalize on the many benefits of embracing big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).
Unfortunately, these same technologies can rapidly become weapons, especially with nefarious characters setting their sights on new targets. According to results from a Darktrace commissioned study completed by Forrester Consulting, 88% of respondents think offensive AI is inevitable. And, almost half of respondents anticipate seeing AI-based attacks within the next year. With AI-powered attacks on the horizon, the report notes it “will be crucial to use AI as a force multiplier.”
Darktrace Director of Threat Hunting Max Heinemeyer tells IndustryWeek, “One of the scariest elements of AI-powered attacks is that it can target the entire digital environment at the same time,” he says. “When you consider this in tandem with the reality that IoT environments are often under-secured, IoT devices and environments will almost certainly be targeted. AI attacks will likely use different parts of the digital environment for different aspects of the kill chain. IoT environments might provide a very good slow and low data exfiltration vector.”
Other key findings include:
- 77% of respondents expect weaponized AI to lead to an increase in the scale and speed of attacks, while 66% felt that it would lead to novel attacks that no human could envision;
- 75% of respondents cited system/business disruption as their top concern about weaponized AI; and
- Over 80% of cybersecurity decision-makers agree that organizations require advanced cybersecurity defenses to combat offensive AI.
Security for IoT environments has historically lagged behind and attackers are already taking advantage of this, explained Heinemeyer. “Smart manufacturers need to think about security earlier in the development process and make it a priority. They also need to allow for easier integrations into a company’s existing security infrastructure,” he says. “Businesses need to implement cyber AI for defense now, before offensive AI becomes mainstream. When it becomes a war of algorithms against algorithms, only autonomous response will be able to fight back at machine speeds to stop AI-augmented attacks.”
The study similarly calls for AI defenses: “If an organization is not operating with AI-enabled defenses to counter AI-enabled attacks, how can it expect to win? The goal is to fight these advanced attacks with advanced tactics that detect, interpret, and respond to the threat before it has a chance to make an impact.”