7 ways in which cybercriminals use machine learning to hack your business
The dark side of the force. Cybercriminals also use AI and ML to develop more advanced and efficient threats and attacks.
Generally, when we talk about artificial intelligence and machine learning, we talk about the positive side, how AI and ML can help fight cyber threats.
But in this post, we’ll treat the issue from another perspective: how criminals are using AI and ML to make more effective and harmful attacks, especially to companies.
Our goal is to show you that even though cybersecurity solutions are evolving, malware, ransomware, phishing, and other threats are evolving as well.
Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, cyber threats and their creators have found new ways to spy, sabotage, spoof, destroy and commit frauds.
Table of Contents
How machine learning is used in cyber attacks
1. Social engineering
Social engineering is a method, a technique used by cybercriminals to deceive and persuade people so that they provide confidential information or take a specific action, such as making a wire transfer or clicking on a malicious attachment.
ML leverages crooks’ actions by allowing them to collect information about companies, employees, and partners more easily and quickly. That is, machine learning potentiates the attacks that use social engineering.
2. Spam, phishing and spear phishing
Spam, phishing, and spear phishing are cybercrime types that rely on human failure to be successful. That is, someone needs to be cheated. ML is often used in these cases to train artificial intelligence with the goal of creating situations similar to real ones.
For example: cybercriminals may use algorithms to understand the pattern of automated emails sent from Netflix or Apple to develop fake messages that look like the real ones.
3. Spoofing and impersonation
Spoofing and impersonation are techniques, terms used to refer to scams in which cybercriminals try to impersonate a company, brand, or known person. With different algorithms, hackers can analyze in detail different target aspects.
Imagine that a hacker wants to impersonate your CEO to send you malicious emails. So he uses algorithms to understand how your CEO writes, using posts and articles from social networks.
ML and AI can help create fake texts, fake videos, and even fake voices.
4. Ransomware, trojan, spyware and other malware
Most malware infections occur by email and use attachments and malicious links. AI and ML have been used by hackers for the development of increasingly clever malware. There are malware capable of adapting to protection systems.
This is what we call evasion techniques used by malware. In the end, we can say that it’s a struggle between bad machine learning versus good machine learning.
5. Vulnerability discovery
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and its algorithms have been increasingly employed in the discovery of vulnerabilities in software and systems.
Vulnerabilities are errors and bugs that allow applications to be hacked. AI and ML help to identify these errors and bugs more quickly and easily. In the past, for example, an error could be identified within weeks.
Today the same error could be identified in minutes, depending on the case. The problem is when these errors are used for dark purposes.
6. Captchas and passwords
Machine learning algorithms can be used by cybercriminals in cases of violation of captchas and passwords. In the case of captchas, ML allows the criminals to train their bot (or robot) to overcome some protection barriers.
Likewise, ML helps crooks in cases of brute-force attacks for the discovery of passwords and credentials.
7. Bots and automation
Several parts and phases of an attack can be automated with the help of machine learning. Imagine that a hacker created a phishing email. He needs to send the email in small quantities to certain groups each time. Algorithms can help him with this.
We don’t write this article to discourage anyone or propagate fear. It’s just important for people to know that machine learning and artificial intelligence are also used by cybercriminals.
Despite all this, ML and AI stand out today as one of the main solutions to block threats and attacks. They’re technologies that really have to do with data and information security.
Here at Gatefy, for example, our algorithms play a key role in our clients’ security. They help us predict, identify and block malicious emails, which means fighting malware, phishing, spam, and other attacks.
So we have been investing heavily in creating sophisticated AI and ML. The goal is always to be ahead of the criminals. That’s the game.