Artificial intelligence threats

According to a new report from Europol published in November, criminals leverage artificial intelligence for malicious use. The document draws attention to the potential benefits of the technology, such as greater efficiency, automation and autonomy, but also warns of the growing risks that come with it. Cybercriminals have always been early adopters of the latest technology, and AI is no different.

The jointly developed new report from Europol, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and Trend Micro, looks into current and predicted criminal uses of artificial intelligence (AI). The document provides law enforcers, policymakers and other organisations with information on existing and potential attacks leveraging AI and recommendations on how to mitigate these risks.

The report concludes that cybercriminals will leverage AI as an attack surface. Deepfakes are currently the best-known use of AI as an attack vector. However, the report warns that new screening technology will be needed in the future to mitigate the risk of disinformation campaigns and extortion, as well as threats that target AI data sets.

For example, AI could be used to support:

• Convincing social engineering attacks at scale.

• Document-scraping malware to make attacks more efficient.

• Evasion of image recognition and voice biometrics.

• Ransomware attacks, through intelligent targeting and evasion.

• Data pollution, by identifying blind spots in detection rules.

The paper also warns that AI systems are being developed to enhance the effectiveness of malware and to disrupt anti-malware and facial recognition systems.

To conclude the report, the three organisations make several recommendations:

• Harness the potential of AI technology as a crime-fighting tool to protect the cybersecurity industry and facilitate its policing.

• Continue research to stimulate the development of defensive technology.

• Promote and develop secure AI design frameworks.

• Leverage public-private partnerships and establish multidisciplinary expert groups.


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