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Artificial Intelligence at the Center of Cyber Crime

IT security company Webroot, in its Quarterly Threat Trends Survey, pointed out that 86% of security professionals are concerned that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) could be used against them. History tells us that for every game-changing innovation, there are numerous ways to exploit and misuse them. AI and Cybersecurity  provide many benefits, but there are also unintended consequences on society.

We dive into the shadowy world of weaponized AI and ML to find out how we can prevent cyber attacks.

cartoon featuring cyber criminal grinning over hacked computers
Cyber criminals are weaponizing artificial intelligence and machine learning to launch cyber attacks. We need to find out how we can prevent them!

What Exactly is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence that computer systems and machines process. It is able to do human tasks like speech recognition, translation, visual perception, and even decision-making, among others. AI is in everywhere, from chatbots telling you the weather, Siri or Alexa converting voice commands to search results. There are self-driving cars, and Netflix recommending movies and shows through your previous selections. IBM’s Watson has the ability to diagnose cancer and even beat human contestants on Jeopardy, for example. AI essentially works like a human brain that thinks with minimal human intervention. Ultimately, it can make decisions based on complex situations to make human lives better and easier.

AI in Nefarious Hands

AI and ML are being used for social engineering. Hackers use it to infiltrate the public domain. They mine large databases and get into social media accounts to extract personal information. Furthermore, hackers can monitor emails, text messages, and social media activity through phishing.

In 2016, two data scientists conducted a phishing experiment on twitter to see which could obtain information faster—humans or artificial intelligence. The AI, called SNAP_R, sent phishing tweets to more than 800 users at a rate of 6.75 tweets a minute and lured 275 victims. In contrast, the human participant sent only 1.075 tweets per minute, making 129 attempts, and luring just 49 victims.

How do Hackers Weaponize AI?

hackers and cybercriminals use artificial intelligence for social engineering, threat of ai and cybersecurity
Hackers use AI and ML technology for social engineering

Sentient robots taking over the world is the least of humanity’s concerns. Today, we have augmented reality, an application of artificial intelligence. This technology uses facial mapping and AI to make an existing video of a person say something completely different. For example, hackers could use this technology to hijack a video of a politician or a celebrity to make them behave a certain way. This ultimately empowers hackers to impersonate people for ‘deepfake’ videos that propagate fabricated news. The US government fears this will happen soon, and is exploring ways on how to detect fake images and videos.

Hackers continually create malware that mutate and avoid detection. Some computers and networks are not able to identify these malware and prevent phishing. Because of this, some can gain access to your cloud accounts and leak personal information or steal your identity. AI can also use a multiplier effect to a malicious campaign by making the process faster and easier, and increase the number of targets.

Hackers could also use AI to remotely control autonomous weapons like drones and target certain individuals by facial recognition.

The stock market is a target for manipulation, especially that there are only a small number of highly influential stock market analysts. Hackers may bloat specific stocks, therefore letting analysts think and decide differently based on the existing market. They then can make strategic buys or sells based on these AI-manipulated stocks.

And as artificial intelligence could require input from different devices, it could benefit from the prevalence of IoT, or the Internet of Things. AI can creep inside your mobile accounts and manage other accounts and devices—from banking, using your Facebook to phish, and even opening the automatic locks of your house.

How We Can Combat Cyber Attacks

Hal Lonas, Webroot’s CTO, suggested a handful of actions we must take to stop cyber attacks from happening:

1.      Have a contextual view of threats

Organizations must have a complete understanding of the threats they receive so they can generate an accurate assessment of their cybersecurity. From there, they can make broad and specific plans that can be realistically executed.

2.      Hire and develop AI and ML learning experts

Human intelligence will have to train machines to distinguish good from bad and flag unknown threats.

3.      Learn to use automation to your advantage

Cyber criminals are continually developing new threats. And as they continue to innovate, companies need to be more creative in addressing these looming threats. They can deploy AI to solve smaller and simpler problems so human experts can put more effort into solving much bigger problems.

4.      Develop your own brand of defensive AI

These AI measures must be better at detecting patterns, and predicting anomalies and social engineering attacks to protect the public’s privacy. The stronger the AI measures for cybersecurity, the safer people are from cyber crimes.

5.      Be careful with links

Be wary of messages sent from suspicious email addresses. Don’t click links from these strangers as these links could be phishing for your personal information. Similarly, take advantage of browsers like Chrome that indicate if a website is safe to visit. A legitimate website would have an Extended Validation certificate, and if not, the browser will also let you know if the site is not safe to visit.

6.      Make passwords a priority

Change your passwords every few months. Also, make sure these passwords are not easy to guess and have a different one for each online account. You may also use password management services like LastPass to safely log in to any of your saved accounts.

7.      Use antivirus software

Use one of the many paid and free software for your personal computers. If in case you clicked or downloaded something from a questionable source, an antivirus software acts as another layer of protection.

There are a lot of innovations being developed that can be used against us. Hackers are always capitalizing on artificial intelligence to steal and profit from our personal information.  However, we must constantly commit to shield ourselves from cyber harm as much as we physically protect ourselves from robbery. Social engineering will only cripple us if we fail to do our due diligence and prepare for any kind of attack.


Sources: Quarterly Threat Trends Survey

We Need to Stop Hackers in Weaponizing AI for Cyber Crime Attacks Cartoon

cartoon featuring cyber criminal grinning over hacked computers
Cyber criminals are weaponizing artificial intelligence and machine learning to launch cyber attacks. We need to find out how we can prevent them!

The Race Is On—Electric Car Charging Stations Expand Globally

Some believe a tipping point is approaching where electric vehicle (EV) sales will explode. In order for this to become a reality, one thing is clear. Electric car charging stations must be plentiful enough to meet consumer needs. Having too few charging stations has been an issue…at least until now. A number of companies are putting their hats in the electric car charging arena. As a result, the electric car charging station infrastructure is rapidly growing worldwide.

As the number of vendors providing electric car charging station increase, they will certainly disrupt EV market sales. In fact, there are signs this is already happening. Globally, annual EV sales recently exceeded 1 million. If better electric car charging stations are available, experts predict these figures will rise quickly in coming years. The UK alone expects 12 million EVs using its electric car charging station infrastructure by 2040.

Governments Getting in on the Action

electric car charging stations of the future
Electric car charging stations

For many countries, creating electric car charging stations is needed for a changing economy and transportation sector. Tax breaks and financial incentives are not uncommon for companies building these charging stations. But some are taking a more aggressive approach. In the UK, officials are proposing that all new homes and offices should come with car charging stations. Likewise, all new lampposts would be mandated to have electric car charging stations as well.

According to UK Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, this infrastructure is essential for national goals. Electric car charging stations would drive EV sales. This would make the UK a more attractive marketplace for international firms. With targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, the UK would welcome more electric car charging stations. These car charging stations would also help the UK realize objectives to eliminate all new fuel-burning car sales by 2040.

Energy Leaders Shifting Gears

Some of the fossil fuel giants are also investing in electric car charging stations. British Petroleum (BP) recently purchased electric car charging station company Chargemaster. Chargemaster charging stations will be installed in 6,500 BP locations in the UK over the next year. These electric car charging stations will offer ultrafast 150-kw chargers allowing EV drivers to get back on the road quickly. Tufan Erginbilgic, Chief Executive of BP Downstream, believes that electric car charging stations need to be both convenient and efficient. In order to successfully transition into the EV energy sector, BP is investing in electric car charging stations aggressively. It would not be surprising if other energy firms did not follow suit.

Car Companies Moving Up the Supply Chain

Tesla has been providing both its EV models and electric car charging stations for years. In fact, Tesla is also partnering with businesses to advance its electric charging stations for Tesla’s Semis. But other EV companies are also considering electric car charging stations as part of their offerings. Porsche recently developed an 800-volt, 350-kw ultrafast electric car charging station to be used with its new EV model. It will release a new car, the Taycan, next year. With these new electric car charging stations, the Taycan can be 80% recharged within 15 minutes. Likewise, Porsche eventually plans to install over 500 of its electric car charging stations in the US and Canada. Any EV with a standard CCS port will be able to use the Porsche charging stations in the future.

Private Industries on the Scene

A number of private firms have also entered the electric car charging market. Fastned, a Dutch company, is expanding electric car charging stations across Europe. Likewise, several California-based electric car charging station companies have gained a market presence. However, Electrify America deserves recognition as a major electric car charging station in the US. The company plans to construct 2,000 fast electric car charging stations at nearly 500 sites in the near future. In addition, the majority will be located at Walmart stores allowing high visibility, convenience and access. Electrify America, created from Volkswagen settlement funds, is partnering with Greenlots in developing this expansive electric car charging station network.

Build Electric Car Charging Stations and They Will Come

With so many market players involved in electric car charging station development, anything is possible. But one thing is certain. With more electric car charging stations, barriers to make the switch to EVs will be less. Infrastructure in transportation is essential. And when it comes to electric car charging stations, many are betting that these will be a game-changer.


Sources:,, https://electrek.co