In response to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s speech on AI and security on 27 October ahead of the upcoming artificial intelligence (AI) Safety Summit, CyberCX UK CEO Phil Mason has warned that AI has the potential to be an “enabler” of cyberattacks. 

Whilst Mason states that AI has huge potential to bot support and enhance defences, he warned that when in the wrong hands AI could enable easier sophisticated cyberattacks for bad actors. 

“One benefit of AI for cyber criminals is the ability to train machine learning algorithms to detect vulnerabilities and misconfigurations, exploit them, and launch attacks with minimal human intervention,” Mason explained to Verdict

AI can automate social engineering attacks to make them more realistic and human-sounding, as well as generate phishing content at an incredibly fast rate. Mason explained that AI is specifically being trained to “replicate” human behaviours to improve the success of attacks similar to these. 

Moreover, AI can be detrimental to existing data breaches where it can be used to collect and analyse large quantities of personal or identifiable information. Which, in Mason’s opinion, could be used to create more effective ransoms at a greater scale than ever before. 

Despite these risks, businesses continue to roll out their own AI software across sectors, including cybersecurity where it can be used in threat detection. 

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David Bicknell, principal analyst at research analyst company GlobalData, stated that AI was already important in cybersecurity and already being used for threat detection at many businesses. While he acknowledged that there was a fear that hackers may begin to use AI for offensive purposes, he stated that “we are still at an early stage” of the implementation of AI within these attacks. 

In its 2023 thematic intelligence report into cybersecurity, GlobalData stated the reasons why some businesses may want to use AI to automate cybersecurity. 

“Automating incident response may, with AI, make it easier to resolve more incidents quickly, reducing the organisation’s downtime and resources required to deal with IT security,” it explained. 

Mason also agrees that AI can be beneficial to a business’ cybersecurity, stating that some of the same qualities of AI that can expedite attacks and analyse leaked data at a faster rate than before are the very same qualities that may make it fundamental in security. 

“As ever, the aim of the game is to develop better technology faster than those we’re fighting against,” Mason concluded.