Growing concern that artificial intelligence could pose new cybersecurity threats

As the capabilities of AI systems increase, so too do the risks of attacks on banks, infrastructure and elections, expects say.
OpenAI's ChatGPT
Posted at 8:26 PM, Apr 26, 2024

Whether you like the idea of Artificial Intelligence or not, it's already a part of your daily life. It helps you navigate around traffic jams, recommends products to buy, and powers our digital assistants.

But AI is also increasingly seen as a cybersecurity threat, capable of launching sophisticated attacks targeting banks, healthcare, infrastructure and elections.

“It's being used to dupe people into thinking their kid is being kidnaped and then handing over money over Venmo. And so those types of threats, what happens when you can't trust the voice credentials of someone is kind of an immediate cybersecurity threat,” says Alexandra Givens, CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology.

A recent survey of 2,300 security professionals conducted by CyberArk found 93 percent expect incoming threats from AI malware. And as AI capabilities increase, so does the worry.

“What does that mean for, you know, future capacity to create chemical or buy nuclear weapons? These are types of concerns that are also being raised,” says Givens.

The Biden Administration is raising them too, in a sweeping executive order issued last fall that calls for new guardrails for AI safety and security. Among other directives, it requires tech companies to share test results, federal agencies to set standards, and calls for better privacy, consumer, and even civil rights protections. It's a first step that will also need Congress to act.

Last month the United Nations adopted its first-ever resolution aimed at ensuring AI can be trusted.

“The risk and benefits of AI have the potential to impact all of us. And so, approaching it requires all of us,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

Rep. Don Beyer.


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Some experts say one of the solutions to countering threats from AI — is better AI.

“There is some hope that AI will actually improve cybersecurity defenses because AI might help us identify vulnerabilities, debug code and patch a lot of the holes that adversaries exploit to conduct cyber attacks,” said Benjamin Boudreaux, a policy researcher at RAND.

Stopping AI cyberthreats will require regulation and responsibility, experts say, not just from governments and private companies but everyday Americans, who will increasingly need to be AI literate.

“That means both understanding a bit about how the technology works, but most importantly, understanding the limitations of the technology and understanding that these technologies are very far from perfect,” Boudreaux said.

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