Artificial Intelligence and Its Impact on Cybersecurity

Shira Rubinoff |  December 2019

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already having a major impact on the escalating importance of cybersecurity. It dramatically increases the need for organizations to implement adequate cybersecurity programs.

Obviously, cybersecurity is necessary for all computer systems – even those that don’t use artificial intelligence. However, AI makes the need much greater. Artificial intelligence enables computers to make decisions that impact humans without the involvement of humans. Therefore, the human impact of hacking an AI-enabled system could be much more devastating than a typical non-AI system.

The dangers of AI

It was recently reported that AI systems can modify MRI results to trick doctors and other AI systems into thinking that people who have cancer are healthy. Alternatively, the result could produce a false flag in an otherwise healthy individual. If a hacker attacked an MRI system and installed an AI that modified results in such a fashion, it would be nearly impossible to find the changes in the altered images. AI systems allow poisoning of data and systems in ways that are much harder to detect than we expect today.

In the era of AI, hackers do not need to compromise systems in the traditional sense to cause costly damage. They don’t even need to be able to read any data from the target systems. It’s as easy as introducing bad data into the data sets that the AI uses to learn about past experiences and how to handle upcoming situations as a result. The AI system may “learn” wrong things from the bad data and produce inaccurate results going forward.

What can we do?

We must pay significantly more attention to cybersecurity in the AI era to prevent people from feeding systems bad data. Sometimes, people intending to harm a particular AI’s performance in some way will poison the data to undermine its integrity. Other times, human error feeds the AI bad data. In either case, proper cyber hygiene and cybersecurity training programs can dramatically decrease the odds that an organization will encounter costly and dangerous issues.

AI is here to stay, and it will only make the need for proper cybersecurity more important as time moves on.

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