Good AI vs. evil malware: The cyber arms race starts now

Automation is moving into more and more sectors as intelligent machines — AIs — are deployed across a range of functions and while much of the negative focus has been on job loss and human redundancy, there is another even more worrying possibility. What if these intelligent machines are used by hackers? In a recent BBC article, Andy Powell, head of cybersecurity at Capgemini UK, warned that “AI will power malware, and will use data from the target to send phishing emails that replicate human mannerisms and content”.

Nathaniel Borenstein, chief scientist at Mimecast, believes that software innovations by the good guys give them a 10-minute head start over the bad. He says there is no doubt that any serious malware player is watching carefully as AI technology is deployed on the anti-malware side, and will respond in kind.

“These technological innovations generally cause, at most, a transient change in the balance of power,” he says, adding that while the security industry can use AI to better spot attacks, cybercriminals can use AI to quickly figure out which phishing messages are getting through and which sites are most vulnerable.

Can ‘good’ machine learning take on global cybercrime? We catch-up with Dave Palmer, Director of Technology at Darktrace to learn more about machine learning and the war against cybercrime.

“It's an ongoing arms race that no organisation can successfully fight alone. AI will force both sides to invest ever more expertise and computational resources in the battle.”

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Bianca Wright

Bianca Wright is a UK-based freelance business and technology writer, who has written for publications in the UK, the US, Australia and South Africa. She holds an MPhil in science and technology journalism and a DPhil in Media Studies.

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