Cyberattacks have now become one of the biggest concerns for governments and companies around the globe. In the past year alone, there has been an 11 per cent increase in security breaches by hackers. These growing figures show just how big a threat cybercrime has become. With security experts fighting the hackers, the cybercrime economy is growing so quickly, it is now making profits of around 1.5 trillion dollars each year. A recent Microsoft survey suggests executives now consider cyberattacks to be the top threat to their businesses.
Now we have this phenomenon called the Internet of Things which is several years old now and this is the number of reason that companies are really hesitant to be more and more connected. What is so interesting about this is that the majority of the hacks that we see are actually not very sophisticated. They are caused by things for having default passwords or passwords like 123456 and these basic mistakes are holding back millions or even trillions in corporate productivity.
Basically, we live in an era of increased connectivity. One of the most interesting examples was in the United Kingdom. One of the new airports there actually has their air traffic control centre off-site. So, there is no tower in this airport, it is remote. If somebody hacked into this, you could easily kill thousands of people, shut down an economy. We are not seeing these kinds of catastrophic events happen yet, but there is certainly a potential.
In 2015 and 2016, Russian hackers took down parts of Ukraine's electrical grid for the first time in the history of hacking. In the second attack, Russian hackers employed malicious software to carry out a fully automated assault on the power grid in Kiev, says a news published on NPR, a news portal.
According to the same report the US had a plan to target Iranian power grid. It said, "The US government allegedly planned to infiltrate the Iranian power grid if the nuclear deal fell through in 2015."
Still it is the big governments and mega companies who worry over similar attacks.
So, how to fight the potential disaster when hackers' strike would resample a terrorist attack. Part of the solution to this is going to be advanced AI technology.
There's so much data traffic now. There are so many connected devices and there are not enough people that can sit in front of a computer screen and monitor what is going on this is going to have to be automated. And, this is going to require artificial intelligence in my opinion.
We need AI technologies to step in and employ these technologies into cyber defence to protect the assets. Because, we don't have enough human power. Let us say we need lots of superhuman to actually sit down and preside over massive amount of data and try to work out if there is an attack happening or if there is an attack about to happen, etc.
A lot of people say that data is the new oil. For examples, I have learnt from an interview of a CEO of palm farms in Indonesia that hackers were going after his connected farms because they are trying to get data that is not on the market.
Recent reports show that companies and corporations are struggling to identify the risks. So, they way behind setting a strategy to defend against cyberattacks. Because, there is lot of information to digest, analyse before we can produce results. AI will be a massive help and let us bring also the other instrument which is "machine learning", a term we sometimes use interchangeably.
Let us imagine a machine superhuman that can sit and look at massive amounts of data and see how they interact with each other and predict that the asset could be under attack or take action since an attack is actually underway right then. This is all about the use of machine learning to combat imminent or ongoing cyberattacks. Unfortunately, the attackers to have access to these technologies. If the attacker start employing AI technologies to carry out cyberattacks then the attacks will be more sophisticated. They will be able to learn about your defences and try to evade detection. That will take this challenge to another new dimension.
Again, the vast majority of cybercrime is actually fairly basic. As noted earlier, it is people that have passwords that go like 12345. It is also people that never changed their passwords. These are things that are very easy to avoid. People need to be more vigilant.
While governments must remain alert of any impending attack on their system, breaches that may put national security on the line, companies and individuals who need to guard against their precious data, they all should prioritise defensive capabilities.
The world is also becoming tenser with the rise in the incidents of hacking. Last year, the US accused Russia of being behind a series of cyberattacks — dubbed 'NotPetya' — on various European entities, says Business Insider.
So, AI or no AI, things around the world is getting overheated over cyberattack, or possible cyberattacks. In addition, accusation of hacking seemed to have become the new syndrome that is doing the round in the digitalised environment.
NPR story tells us that the US government was struggling with how to make sure that they maintained national security of their critical infrastructures.
Md Sharif Hasan is a faculty at the Department of International Relations, University of Rajshahi.