Artificial Intelligence: friend or foe?

04 July 2018

While every technological advance has demonstrated that it’s designed with the best of intentions, the inherent dual use of AI technology - whereby it can either be used for good or harm - makes it a useful tool for those looking to target you, your family and your business.

‘Dual use’ matters, because such technology can be utilised by your detractors against the very IT infrastructure you depend on to keep your critical business systems functioning. It can also be used to undermine the privacy and security of you and your family.

So before you rush to make use of AI, bear in mind that malicious actors, such as cyber-criminals, will look to make use of it in terms of masking their attacks, to avoid exposure, and to make their actions against you more efficient.

To date, the large scale use of autonomous weapons - which could look to make use of AI when it comes to selecting and engaging targets without human intervention - has been something of a hypothetical consideration. But what are the potential issues that can arise from the deployment of such technology, in instances when a cyber-criminal has successfully penetrated your systems?  

  1. When embedded within you corporate infrastructure, AI will learn about your environment, which may include what cyber security measures you have in place. If manipulated, it could be used to degrade your cyber security, while adapting its behaviour to avoid detection;
  2. Impersonation will become easier, as AI can also be utilised to learn your writing style, frequently contacted individuals, and distinctions between your personal and professional life based on sentiment analysis;
  3. AI’s prowess in the area of data processing will likely make it a target for exploitation, given the vast amount of data it collects;
  4. By its very nature, AI is pervasive. If law enforcement can use it to track criminals, criminals can also deploy it to track you via geolocation and monitoring. AI is transforming surveillance, and this has the potential to have a profound impact on yours and your family’s privacy and security;
  5. AI is not only transforming offices, but homes too. As smart home technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, cyber-criminals or anyone wishing you harm could make use of the AI technology in your home to snoop on you and your family.

It is often common to choose convenience over privacy, but when it comes to deciding whether to take advantage of the benefits afforded by AI, you first have to understand and appreciate your personal privacy exposure. From a digital privacy perspective, only by securing your personal networks and devices will you have visibility of the threats posed.

AI is ushering in a new era of fraud and impersonation. It is already capable of carefully mapping your face onto existing multimedia platforms, so awareness of social engineering techniques is important if you’re to protect yours and your family’s identity. As this type of attack becomes less costly to execute, something as simple as two-factor authentication or a physical security key can help foil such attacks.

When it comes to AI, it’s time to get interested in your private and confidential information before someone else does. This includes revisiting and strengthening your cyber security measures; a key tactic of any successful reputation and privacy strategy. 

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