Unmasking The Dark Side of AI: Unveiling Crimes, Risks, and Safeguarding Strategies

Over these past several years, technology has become an integral part of our lives. In our personal lives as students, homemakers, and senior citizens, we consume content for education, entertainment, sports, healthcare, news, and communication. In the corporate world, industries are morphing to become tech-enabled like ed-tech, med-tech, gov-tech, fin-tech, automotive-tech etc.

One of the more transformative technologies to become mainstream recently is Artificial Intelligence (AI), revolutionizing various industries and impacting our daily lives. While this overhang of tech has definitely resulted in improved productivity, quality of life, and transparency as well as removing any information arbitrage, it has created a significant security risk with the entire populace now being at risk. Just like any powerful tool, AI can be exploited for nefarious purposes, aptly summed up by a quote attributed to Elon Musk “AI will be the best or the worst thing for humanity”.

In this blog, we will explore the various types of crimes conducted using AI, examine the implications of AI as a boon or bane, discuss the sectors at high risk with AI, delve into the use of AI to conduct crimes on social media and provide guidance on protecting oneself from AI-driven phishing attacks, particularly for senior citizens who may be more vulnerable. Pankit Desai, Co-Founder & CEO, Sequretek shares more insights on the same.


Various Types of AI-Enabled Crimes

AI technology has facilitated the emergence of new and sophisticated forms of criminal activities. Some prominent examples include:

  • Deepfake: AI-generated synthetic media, known as deepfakes, can manipulate images and videos to create realistic but fabricated content, leading to impersonation, misinformation, and defamation.
  • AI-enhanced cyber attacks: AI algorithms can enhance the speed and precision of cyber attacks, such as DDoS attacks, password cracking, and malware propagation, posing significant threats to individuals and organizations.
  • Automated social engineering: AI can simulate human-like interactions, enabling sophisticated social engineering attacks that deceive individuals into revealing sensitive information or performing unauthorized actions.
  • Data theft and privacy breaches: AI can be used to breach security systems, exploit vulnerabilities, and extract sensitive information from databases, resulting in severe consequences for individuals and organizations alike.
  • Malware attacks: AI can be used to develop malware that can adapt to changing circumstances and evade detection by security systems. For example, attackers can use AI to create polymorphic malware that changes its code each time it infects a new machine, making it more difficult to detect and remove.


Sectors at High Risk with AI

While cybersecurity in general is sector agnostic, certain sectors are susceptible to AI-related risks and attacks.

  • Financial institutions: AI can be leveraged to bypass security measures, conduct financial fraud, engage in identity theft, and facilitate money laundering.
  • Healthcare: AI-driven attacks on healthcare systems can compromise patient data, disrupt critical infrastructure, and even pose risks to patient safety.
  • Transportation and logistics: AI can manipulate traffic systems, disrupt supply chains, and compromise autonomous vehicles, leading to potential safety hazards.
  • Government and defence: AI-based attacks targeting critical infrastructure and sensitive government systems pose significant national security risks.


The use of AI for fake news creates an impact on brand reputation and social harmony

AI has become a powerful tool for conducting crimes on social media platforms, with consequences extending beyond individuals to big brands. Key issues include:

  • Spread of misinformation: AI-powered bots can amplify the reach of fake news and propaganda, causing social and political unrest and damaging the reputation of brands.
  • Brand damage and reputation attacks: AI can be used to spread false information, defame individuals, and tarnish the reputation of brands, resulting in significant financial and reputational damage.
  • Social engineering and phishing attacks: AI algorithms can mimic human behaviour, enabling scammers to manipulate unsuspecting users and deceive them into divulging sensitive information or performing fraudulent actions.


How does one protect against AI-Driven attacks?

Given the vulnerability of citizens who may be unaware of such crimes, it is crucial to take preventive measures. Here’s what individuals, particularly seniors, should look out for;

  • Be cautious of unsolicited emails, messages, or calls asking for personal or financial information.
  • Verify the legitimacy of requests before providing any sensitive information.
  • Use secure and unique passwords for all online accounts and enable two-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Regularly update software and security patches on devices to prevent exploitation of vulnerabilities


Are we fighting a losing battle?

The use of AI technology has both positive and negative implications. There is a need for the government and industry to look at a few areas to mitigate the challenges defined earlier;

  • Embrace AI in cybersecurity: Utilize AI-powered tools for threat detection, incident response, and vulnerability assessments, enhancing the overall security posture.
  • Ensure AI transparency: Develop explainable AI models to understand how decisions are made, ensuring accountability and reducing the potential for biases or unethical behaviour.
  • Continuously assess AI risks: Regularly evaluate AI systems for vulnerabilities and potential exploits, addressing any security gaps promptly.
  • Promote ethical AI usage: Establish guidelines and best practices for responsible AI development and deployment, focusing on privacy, fairness, and transparency.

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