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Comparing the Relative Danger of AI-Aided Crimes

by | Aug 17, 2020 | MyTek Blog, Security


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Cybercrime is usually though of as blatantly obvious scam emails or about the major high risk hackers we see in the movies that take over the government and sneak inside buildings. Truthfully, hackers are usually somewhere in the middle and cybercrime can be carried out by artificial intelligence in many different degrees of success. A new published study analyzed 20 cybercrimes that might incorporate AI to target their business. Let’s talk about AI cybercrime and everything you need to know about how it might be used in the next 15 years.

The Research Process

To look at the largest threats AI might play a part in, they identified 20 different categories. After being reviewed by academic, law enforcement, defense, government, and public sector representatives, they were based on four considerations.

  • Whether in terms of financial loss or loss of trust, the expected harm to the victim.
  • Whether in terms of capital or some other motivation, the profit that could be generated by the perpetrator. This can often overlap with Harm.
  • How achievable the threat was for the perpetrator to carry out, like the ease.
  • The attack’s defeatability, or how challenging it would be to overcome, prevent, or neuter the attack.

The Relationship Between AI and Criminal Activity

Crime is a really diverse concept. With the addition of artificial intelligence into the mix, it gets even more diverse and crazy. AI is obviously going to be more applicable in some crime forms than in others, like it can be used for phishing and not for robbery. Data has also been seen as just as valuable as physical goods, which makes AI-powered crime a huge threat for digital businesses.

Professor Lewis Griffin of UCL Computer Science, one of the authors of study, said, “As the capabilities of AI-based technologies expand, so too has their potential for criminal exploitation. To adequately prepare for possible AI threats, we need to identify what these threats might be, and how they may impact our lives.”

The Researchers’ Results

A bell curve of the 20 assorted threats identified was created. As a result, these AI cybercrime can be broken down into three separate categories:

Low Threats

These threats had less benefits for the criminal because they would cause very little harm and would bring very small profit. They are also very simple to defeat. Some of the threats here include forgery, AI-assisted stalking, AI-authored fake news or bias exploitation.

Moderate Threats

These threats are relatively neutral, with four considerations averaging them out to be neither good or bad for the criminal. These threats were sectioned off until two columns. The first listed off market bombing, tricking facial recognition, online eviction, and autonomous attack drones. The second listed learning-based cyberattacks, snak oil attacks (where fake AI is sold as part of a misrepresented service), data poisoning military robots.

High Threats

Beyond low and medium threats, there are plenty of high rated threats. Some of these are disrupting AI-controlled systems, AI-authored fake news when joined by wide-scale blackmail, Tailored phishing or spear phishing, and the use of autonomous vehicles as weapons.

The one threat that ranked most beneficial on all four considerations was the use of audio/visual impersonation, more commonly referred to as deepfakes.

Deepfakes use computer programming and artificial intelligence to recreate an individual’s appearance with great accuracy, making it possible to make it seem like someone has said something they never had, been somewhere they’ve never been or done something they haven’t done. You can find some examples on YouTube of varying quality, but it’s obvious to see how a well-made deepfake could be damaging to someone who is targeted maliciously.

Just because some threats, like deepfakes, are more impactful than others doesn’t mean that you can ignore other threats. In fact, you should be on the lookout for any threat that could come your way. MyTek can help your business be aware of AI cybercrime and other forms that you’ll need to look out for, so give us a call today at 623-31-2440.


Tim - Team

Tim Tiller, LMSW

Tim Tiller, MSW brings a deep service background to his role at Mytek, having graduated from McDonald’s management training program, fresh out of high school, and working his way up through the ranks in the hospitality industry. He has led two prior companies – Multi-Systems Inc., an IT-focused organization providing technology to hospitality companies (where he was named President at age 36), and most recently, as Chief Operating Officer for Jewish Voice Ministries International.


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