In 2017 there were 1,579 data breaches, according to a dossier by Statista, a leading aggregator of market and consumer data. The breaches exposed consumers’ sensitive information—from medical information to account numbers—representing roughly 179 million individual records being vulnerable to criminal misuse. That’s eye-opening in and of itself, but when you consider that just five years ago there were only 447 breaches (representing 17 million exposed records), the news is downright shocking. And the numbers are on the rise.
Digital record keeping has been ubiquitous since the late 1990s, so more digital data in circulation doesn’t explain the spike in crime.
Instead, two letters do: AI
Starting from the very top, what can be done to protect our technical infrastructure?
ARE GOVERNMENT POLICIES STEPPING UP?
All of it is a serious enough threat that AI leaders from seven different U.S.- and UK-based organizations such as the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Future of Humanity Institute and Electronic Frontier Foundation came together to publish a 100-page report entitled The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, and Mitigation.
In response to the changing threat and evolving landscape they made four general recommendations:
- Policymakers and the technical community should increase collaboration
- Researchers and engineers in artificial intelligence should allow misuse-related considerations to influence research priorities, and proactively reach out to authorities when harmful applications are foreseeable
- A peer-reviewed “best practice for research areas” should be identified and adhered to
- The range of stakeholders and experts involved in discussions of these challenges should be expanded
WHAT CAN BUSINESSES DO?
The first thing you can do is support the research and building of joint global intelligence networks that can track threats that are happening around the globe. Groups like MAAGI (Malware Analysis and Attribution using Genetic Information) have formed in recent years to help detect and track cyber attacks, making it easier for IT administrators to create new passwords and firewalls before they are hit.
High amounts of personal data distributed across different vendors residing on their central systems can increase our exposure and create green field opportunities for attackers to abuse and exploit us in unimaginable ways. So, developing business practices and policies aimed at retaining data in-house or on servers you control should be implemented. This means the firewalls and password procedures are on you to implement. Thankfully, you have resources like EZPD to help fortify your business.
Logic of smart systems
We will see more and more machines using AI in the effort to immediately and directly impact the lives of humans. Not to sound overly alarmist, but those who chose to use AI maliciously could increase their ability to hack the logic of systems. The result could, literally, be life or death when it comes to medical devices, smart vehicles, driverless cars, and so on.
With consequences that high, it may require widespread use of blockchain innovation to keep us safe. Blockchain publicly records when and where digital actions take place, making it easier to track bad actors. This requires buy-in and collaborative flexing between private companies and the government, including law enforcement. The tools they could use to combat the new wave of crime would also need to extend beyond geographical borders since the digital world knows no boundaries. Protective game plans would need to be comprehensive, digitally and globally.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
One thing that won’t change is the importance of password security.
The best way for individual consumers to protect themselves, without relying on business or government, is to continue to focus on password security. That comes down to password strength, password regeneration, and making sure passwords don’t live in a hackable space. Click here to learn how EZPD delivers on all three.