A form of malware that holds a business’s or individual’s data to ransom, ransomware is one of the top concerns for businesses today. Today, the global rise in AI adoption is set to increase the volume and impact of cyber attacks, with generative AI (Gen AI) technology expanding the capabilities of threat actors.
According to a report by the UK Government’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), AI is already being used in malicious cyber activity and will almost certainly increase the volume and impact of cyber attacks – including ransomware – in the near term.
By lowering the barrier of entry to novice cyber criminals, hackers-for-hire and hacktivists, the NCSC suggests AI is enabling relatively unskilled threat actors to carry out more effective access and information-gathering operations. Its report suggests that this enhanced access, combined with the improved targeting of victims afforded by AI, will contribute to the global ransomware threat in the next two years.
With a report from Dell Technologies showing that organisations are overconfident surrounding the consequences of ransomware breaches, NCSC CEO Lindy Cameron says that organisations should both harness AI technology for its vast potential and manage its risks – including its implications on the cyber threat.
“The emergent use of AI in cyber attacks is evolutionary not revolutionary,” Cameron says, “meaning that it enhances existing threats like ransomware but does not transform the risk landscape in the near term.”
Gen AI ‘a blessing and a curse’ for cybersecurity: Zero Trust is key
Cybersecurity threats are a continuous challenge facing businesses across the globe, with Gen AI continuing to change the security landscape.
“With no regard for ethics or the law, cybercriminals are in a relentless race to harness AI to discover new innovative hacks,” Bartoletti says. “How do we move forward? It is crucial that we build an alliance between technical experts and policymakers so we can develop the future of AI in threat hunting and beyond, and support organisations in the fight to protect their assets.”
Meanwhile Steve Young, UK SVP and MD at Dell Technologies believes that Gen AI is a blessing and a curse. Organisations, he says, should consider adopting a Zero Trust framework which, for many, will enable AI models and data to work better together in their own, secure environment.
"AI represents the potential for huge productivity gains for enterprises, anywhere between 20-30% for most organisations,” Young describes. “Gen AI will change how we all use and consume information, and has, in effect, democratised AI - anybody can now be an AI innovator with the right data and processing power. But therein lies the rub; as Gen AI's capability expands, it creates equal opportunities for both enterprises and bad actors."
Gen AI, Young adds, presents a unique conundrum for organisations. “On one hand it provides opportunities for fresh innovations, including shoring up defences, but on the other, it creates new, more valuable volumes of data that naturally become harder to protect and more easily targeted.”
Businesses concerned about data privacy and the security of their enterprise IP in the face of Gen AI should consider adopting a Zero Trust framework – described in Cyber Magazine as the key to greater organisational security – to protect and contain AI systems.
“Data privacy, cybersecurity and storage standards will all mitigate risks associated with using AI technology,” Young adds. “Additionally, while Gen AI deployments will span all locations, it may prove more manageable, cost-effective and secure for enterprises to bring AI closer to their data. For many, that will mean their AI models and data working together in their own, secure environment.”
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