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Be prepared for AI-powered cyber attacks

A study conducted by MIT Technology Review finds that 96% of security leaders are now preparing for the emergence of AI-powered cyber-attacks, with many embracing AI defenses.

MIT Technology Review Insights surveyed over 300 C-level executives, directors and managers worldwide between December 2020 and January 2021 to understand how they address present and future cyber-threats. Key findings include:

  • The top 3 most concerning attacks were email attacks (74%), ransomware (73%) and cloud-based attacks (68%)
  • 96% of respondents are preparing for the onset of AI attacks
  • 68% expect AI to be used for impersonation and spear-phishing attacks
  • 60% believe that human-driven responses fail to keep up with automated cyber-attacks

The report includes a case study from McLaren Racing, the Formula 1 giant, which uses Darktrace’s Autonomous Cyber AI to detect and respond to fast-moving cyber-attacks. The case study details an instance in which the AI stopped a sophisticated email impersonation attack during a busy race weekend.

The report also details insights from Darktrace’s Director of Threat Hunting and former White Hat Hacker, Max Heinemeyer, who explores the security challenges of ‘fearware’, highly targeted scam emails that have exploited the public’s fears around the pandemic.

“Of the individuals surveyed for this report, 60% are C-level executives and directors,” commented Laurel Ruma, Editorial Director, US at MIT Technology Review. “From the results, it is clear that cyber security is a real and significant issue for business leaders – and AI is going to play a very big part in securing all enterprises.”

“These findings show that we are at a watershed moment and business executives are preparing for a new era of attacks,” commented Nicole Eagan, Chief Strategy & AI Officer at Darktrace. “Approaches that are based on analyzing historical attacks will be ill-equipped to defend against Offensive AI. A fundamentally new approach using self-learning technology and autonomous response will be necessary to augment human security teams.”

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