Artificial Intelligence: A Phantom Menace for Cybersecurity?


AI-Powered Cyber Threats: A Storm in the Cloud, or Just Vaporware?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made its way into our daily lives, transforming office technology and modern society. We have AI-powered personal assistants, cars, and even AI doctors. As the field continues to evolve, it’s also carving out a niche in the dark corners of the digital world – cybersecurity. However, the feared AI-enabled threats may not be as near as we think, according to a cybersecurity expert.

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Ryan Kalember, the EVP of Cybers

“Conceptually, it’s a real threat. I’ve heard limited examples of very specific groups… using what we presume as deepfake technology to have an Australian accent, which was interesting. Or they were just really good at faking an Australian accent. Also plausible.”

Ryan Kalember, June 2023, IT Brew

Ryan Kalember, the EVP of Cybersecurity Strategy at Proofpoint, offered a more nuanced perspective on this issue during his recent talk at RSA 2023. Drawing on his extensive experience dealing with cyber threats, Kalember paints a picture that is both encouraging and cautionary.

The threat landscape is undoubtedly transforming, with hackers persistently seeking to gain the upper hand. Now, artificial intelligence – the same technology behind Siri and Alexa – is being eyed as a potential tool for future cyberattacks. We’re talking about deep fakes, AI-altered videos, or audio that mimic real individuals to near perfection. The idea of such deep fakes being used for malicious purposes sounds like a plot from a science fiction novel. And, as per Kalember, it might remain in the realm of fiction for a while longer.

Why? Simply put, it boils down to the cost. Creating convincing deep fakes or other AI-empowered threats requires a hefty amount of resources and an advanced skill set. This, Kalember suggests, makes them an unrealistic option for most cyber criminals. It’s not an AI apocalypse yet; everyday hacking techniques are still king.

Indeed, hackers are opportunists are constantly seeking the path of least resistance. Why spend a fortune on sophisticated AI when a simple phishing scam or malware-ridden file can achieve the same end? Why dive into the depths of AI when vulnerabilities in widely used systems like Active Directory provide such an easy avenue for attack?

In Kalember’s words, cybersecurity teams must address the here-and-now threats before turning their focus toward advanced AI-powered attacks. It’s a clear reminder that while we must remain vigilant about emerging threats, we must not lose sight of the persisting vulnerabilities of our digital landscape. In essence, it’s time we start paying more attention to the day-to-day hacking tools before we engage with the phantom menace of AI threats.

After all, it’s not the robots – or the AI – we should be worried about, but rather, the humans behind them.

Good article, here.

– Greg Walters, Head Writer