Defending the Digital Realm: AI’s Influence on Security  

November 30, 2023

The Changing Face of Cyber Threats through AI & AI’s Influence on Security

Business professionals today use the term AI to describe a variety of advanced systems. The most common areas include image processing, natural language processing, recommender systems, or popular chat bots such as ChatGPT. These systems have a variety of uses from automating tasks and gaining data insights, to suggesting recipes given a list of ingredients! The techniques are often thought of as ‘intelligent’ because they enable machines to mimic human-like cognitive processes. Yet, there is no actual thinking happening. These are complex models which use techniques like backpropagation, statistics, and non-linear relationships. These tools can recognize patterns invisible to a data analyst and make connections that would take humans months to create. They can replicate and reproduce patterns with remarkable accuracy – it’s no surprise they are considered to have their own intelligence.  

Advancements in AI can be a beacon of hope for business users wanting to make the most of their data. However, it can also be the largest looming threat to cyber security. AI is enabling elusive malware, simpler phishing, and heightening the scale of all conventional methods cybercriminals use to steal from your organization. AI’s influence on security has been substantial.

Uncovering types of AI risks 

  • Phishing 
    • While picturing a cyber-criminal sending a phishing email with a fake LinkedIn account may lack the glamour associated with the scrolling lines of code depicted in films like The Matrix – it poses the most substantial risk to businesses today. It is also one of the cyber threats that is increasingly harder to detect in our age of AI. Just like a student using ChatGPT to write their essay – Cyber Criminals can use AI to simulate emails and mockup fake webpages. They use the collected information to harm your organization. Obvious spelling mistakes, confusing phrasing, and out-of-character subject lines are no longer effective in determining what is or is not malicious.  
  • Malware Development  
    • AI can also fuel the fires of malware creation and execution as cybercriminals use its capabilities to supplement their malware development efforts and harness the capabilities of artificial intelligence within their creations. Polymorphic malware is a type of program that is adaptable in its presentation to evade detection, making it increasingly challenging for cybersecurity professionals to defend against a threat with no recognizable pattern. 
  • SEO Infiltration  
    • Imagine if your Google search for ‘Notepad++ download’ yielded a simulated download page that inconspicuously installed Notepad++ (along with a keystroke monitoring malware) and you were none the wiser? This is the goal of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) infiltration – ask any marketing specialist and they will tell you how important SEO is for reaching your target audience. This goes for cybercriminals as well. SEO poisoning is not new – but AI has made rising in the search rankings through cloaking and click-rate data easier.   
      • Cloaking involves misrepresenting site content based on the requester: human or bot. Search engines use bots to scan site content for relevancy, and the findings determine the search ranking. However, using AI, cybercriminals can identify these bot requests and present SEO-optimized content which artificially boosts their search ranking. Then, when a human request is made, alternate content such as spam or malware is presented. 
      • Click-rate data can be artificially increased by a program that cycles through common search terms on a desired subject and subsequently navigates to the simulated site. This action tells search engines essentially, “People who search for ‘Notepad++’ will want to click on this site”. As a result, the search engine will increase the fraudulent link’s standing in the search results.   

Building Resilience Against AI-Enhanced Threats 

  • Fighting AI with AI 
    • It’s no secret you are likely being tracked on your company computer. This is good news! Artificial intelligence can analyze user (and automated) behavior for anomalies to identify and respond to threats instantaneously. AI in these behavioral models can slowly adjust to validated changes in user behavior over time and accurately identify anomalies in these behaviors. Conventional detection measures can also be enhanced using AI concepts.  
  • Zero Trust 
    • Zero trust is a model of cybersecurity that ensures all users and devices are validated before accessing applications and data. This principle applies to both technical and interpersonal interactions. The technical systems that require the input of a two-factor authentication code are just as important as the protocol that requires you to validate your identity on the phone with your internal help desk. Zero trust is based on ideologies of least access – an adaptive approach that encourages user access to be limited to that which is required for their job.  
  • Security Awareness Training 
    • The easiest and most fruitful way for a cybercriminal to create issues for your organization is through impersonation and credential phishing. All possible efforts must be made to improve process compliance and awareness about these issues. By educating your employees on recognizing and reporting suspicious activities, you empower your organization to proactively defend against cyber threats and safeguard sensitive information. Training needs to be frequently administered and tested – sending a fake phishing email quarterly and requiring a 15-minute web training yearly is not enough. Vigilance must be practiced. 

In the ever-evolving realm of cybersecurity, the rise of AI presents both a promise and a peril. While AI empowers businesses to unlock data’s potential, it also fuels cunning cyber threats like phishing and SEO infiltration. AI’s Influence on Security is both positive and negative. These elusive perils demand innovative solutions, such as AI-driven anomaly detection and the Zero Trust model. Yet, the most crucial defense remains vigilant employees, armed with security awareness training that adapts as swiftly as the evolving threatscape. In this AI-powered battleground, constant vigilance is our shield. 

At Imaginet, we take cybersecurity seriously. If you found this information helpful, subscribe to our blog. We publish technology tips, tricks, and hints every week.


What Is SEO Poisoning? – CrowdStrike 
Emerging cyber threats in 2023 from AI to quantum to data poisoning | CSO Online 
What Is Cloaking in SEO: 2023 Guide | SerpWatch 
What is Zero Trust? | Microsoft Learn 

Emily is passionate about safety, which is why she wrote this article about AI's Influence on Security

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