Artificial intelligence posing new challenges for cybersecurity in 2020

UNTV News   •   January 16, 2020   •   894

By Marc Arcas

Photo showing a hacker writing computer code on his laptop. EFE-EPA/Oskar Burgos/File

San Francisco – The ability of artificial intelligence to absorb and process enormous quantities of data has a dark side when used by cyber-pirates to create new “malware,” a trend that is already evident and which will only increase this year.

In the same way that artificial intelligence has huge creative potential to give machines a way to emulate human learning, this very fact also confers upon AI great destructive capacity and the ability to do harm, for example in the preparation and dissemination of viruses, Trojan Horses and other malign software.

“Cyber-pirates will use artificial intelligence more and more to create malware that will be more destructive,” the social director of Microsoft’s Software Engineering division, Glaucia Faria Young, told EFE in an interview.

“This is something that has already started happening and it breaks through the security models we’ve traditionally used. They are more complex attacks and more broadly distributed. And, it’s easier for them to remain undetected,” she said.

AI systems are able to increase the speed and precision of cyberattacks and, at the same time, fool conventional anti-virus defenses, since the latter are programmed to look for specific code elements that are not necessarily obvious in AI programs.

One example of this is the ability for automatic learning to spread a virus widely without causing any damage and without raising anyone’s suspicions, but it suddenly activates itself when it infects the desired equipment, such as the computers of a specific firm, individual or public institution.

In contrast to traditional malware, which harms all devices through which is passes and, thus, is easier to detect and halt, an AI system remains “dormant” until it reaches its objective, recognizes it (via facial or acoustic recognition, for instance) and activates itself.

“The way we can counterattack is to also use AI to detect attacks,” said Young, who emphasized the potential of this technology to identify patterns and anomalies quickly and thoroughly among enormous quantities of data.

The team that Young heads, for example, uses its own system of automatic learning that, instead of pursuing earlier interactions of malign code, as was normally the case, operates using risk factors in analyzing about eight billion signals it receives each day.

Along with AI, the people at Microsoft responsible for cybersecurity forecast that cybercriminals will use four other types of cyberattacks in 2020 focusing on attacks on value chains if they are not coordinated, public “Clouds,” the growing fragility of passwords and the appearance of state-run operations.

Regarding value chains, analysts emphasize the importance of companies, customers and providers acting in a coordinated manner to prevent attacks, given that if just one of these actors protects itself, info-pirates can still harm them by attacking other elements in the chain.

In terms of the Cloud, this is basically a question of volume: with more companies and individuals moving toward such services, the public Cloud has become a target that looks more and more tempting for hackers.

On passwords, the debate has been ongoing for some time, although it has intensified in recent years. Despite their widespread use, they are rather inefficient and vulnerable security systems and experts recommend gradually moving to authentication models using two or more steps, including – for instance – biometric recognition.

Finally, the cybercrime activities organized by governments and state entities around the world are one of the biggest challenges facing cybersecurity authorities, since this implies a significant change in the “shape” of the enemy: It’s not about four hackers in a basement somewhere acting on their own behalf anymore but rather big state-supported and -financed cyberattack operations. EFE

DICT warns public vs social engineering attacks

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 27, 2020

The Department of Information, Communications and Technology (DICT) has warned the public against social engineering attacks.

In a post, the DICT defined social engineering as “psychologically manipulating people to give their confidential information.” The department reminds the public not to easily trust websites and other messages online.

  • Delete any request for personal information or passwords
  • Reject requests/offers for help if you have not requested one from the sender
  • Use spam filters
  • Secure devices
  • Always be mindful of risks

Meanwhile, the DICT previously reported the prevalence of cybercrimes since the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). DICT Asec. Emmanuel Rey Caintic said the department has ordered all management information system (MIS) server operators to utilize the updated version of cryptographic protocols for all government websites.

“During this ECQ, cybercrimes are prevalent and, to contribute to the administration’s efforts of keeping the people safe from the coronavirus, we should likewise keep them safe from threats against their data privacy and cybersecurity,” he said. AAC

11 Filipino startups join tech exhibition in Taiwan

Marje Pelayo   •   May 30, 2019

TAIPEI, Taiwan – Twenty-five (25) countries showcase their respective innovations in the biggest tech exhibit in Asia – InnoVEX 2019 – happening at Taipei World Trade Center from May 29 to May 31.

A total of 11 startup companies represent the Philippines in the three-day event specifically utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Cyber Security, Smart Advertising and eCommerce, Education, and Housing solution among others.

In cooperation with the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) and the Philippine Trade and Investment Center – Taipei, startup companies in the Philippines were given the opportunity to introduce their products to the international market and promote Filipino capability and strength in the field of Information Technology (IT).

“Dito kasi napapakita natin hindi lang sa Taiwan industry kundi sa buong mundo ang kagalingan ng Pilipino sa IT,” noted MECO Chairman Angelito Banayo.

“Mga startups ito. Ibig sabihin karamihan ng makikita mo ay puro bata, mga naguumpisa ng negosyo pero ang puhunan talaga nila ay ang kanilang talino, ang kanilang galing at ang creativity, Doon naman napakagaling ng Pilipino,” he added.

Jonathan de Luzuriaga, president of the Philippine Software Industry Association, said such an event provides an opportunity for the Philippine IT industry to broaden its understanding and appreciation of the startup ecosystem which will help bolster the country’s IT capability.

“Hopefully we’ll learn to create our own products for the rest of the world to actually use,” he said.

Meanwhile, MECO Director for Commercial Affairs Michael Alfred Ignacio explained that the participation of Filipino startup companies in the said tech competition will “show that the Philippines is also a hub of technology, innovation, and startups that can really succeed” through Filipinos’ immense talent and innovation.

The Philippines first joined the annual InnoVEX competition in 2018 when its representative brought home $70,000USD in price.

The competition will proceed to the next level on Friday (May 31) when the Philippines will take the center stage along with France, Poland and Canada for the Global Demo Day.

The event also serves as a gathering of international investors and corporations who are potential sponsors for startups to take their innovations to a greater height. – (with reports from Amiel Pascual)

Alibaba opens AI ‘future hotel’

admin   •   December 26, 2018

Interior of Alibaba’s AI ‘future hotel’ and a robot | REUTERS

Chinese internet giant Alibaba has opened a hotel loaded with artificial intelligence (AI) and robots, automating a series of procedures like check-in, lights control and room service.

FlyZoo Hotel, opened in Hangzhou, capital of east China’s Zhejiang Province, where Alibaba is headquartered, is known as the company’s first “future hotel”.

Customers can check into the hotel by simply scanning their faces. The facial recognition system installed in the hotel also enables customers to use their faces as key cards to open doors and access other hotel services.

Users can also control the lights, television and curtains in the room via Alibaba’s voice-activated digital assistant, while robots are deployed to serve dishes, cocktails and coffee.

Hotel bookings and check-out can also be done with a few clicks on mobile through an app. The hotel is the latest example of Chinese techcompanies’ foray into traditional industries such as the hospitality sector.

“We don’t have to waste our time on registering and waiting in lines. Many services like check in can be done with a smartphone. Secondly, I feel more safe with the help of this technology and these smart facilities,” said Sam Wang, a customer.

Some people may concern that these robots may put the human hotel staff out of a job.

“I’m not worried about being replaced by robots, because machines and robots can only do some simple works at this hotel. It is the human employees that can provide better services. The robots can save us a lot of time so that we can better serve our customers,” said Sun Xiaoting, an employee of FlyZoo Hotel.

Many customers said technology is making hotels more convenient and upgrading their services. But others said information safety and privacy are major concerns.

Many hotels across the world are now teaming with tech companies to upgrade their facilities with AI and Internet of Things technologies. FlyZoo Hotel’s CEO Wang Qun said safety and service will always be their top priority.

“So we are already concerning about this kind of issue. First of all, we will completely comply with the local government policies and local laws. Secondly with our system capabilities, because you know all our systems are cloud based, we have more and more strong capabilities to protect those data and privacies from our individual guests,” said Wang.

Wang said the FlyZoo Hotel is 1.5 times more efficient than its competitors. — Reuters

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