Cyber Security
Computer screen displaying the words "System Hacked"

Ransomware Threats On the Rise Because of AI: What You Need to Know

Last week, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) released a report warning that artificial intelligence (AI) has caused an increase in attempted ransomware threats, predicting that this trend will only worsen over the next two years.

According to the NCSC’s latest assessment, cybercriminals were early adopters of AI as a tool, and as AI technologies improve, cyber attacks could become even more frequent and harder to detect, especially ransomware threats, which remain the most common type of cyber attack in the UK.

While this news is daunting, we have highlighted the key points of NCSC’s report, and what actions you should take for your cyber security to protect your assets and valuable data from ransomware hackers.

Firstly, AI is making it easier for even the not-so-tech-savvy amateur hackers to join the cybercrime space. Lack of regulation during the early days of AI’s public availability has allowed for the growth of novice hackers, hackers-for-hire, and even hacktivists, giving them the ability to carry out more effective attacks and gather information with less skill.

Secondly, with AI’s improved targeting capabilities, cybercriminals are having more success than before. They can pinpoint their victims more precisely and efficiently, contributing to the looming global ransomware threat. This has consequently empowered more cybercriminals attempt to carry out attacks and threats over the past two years, and the number is set to grow.

Before the boom of AI, ransomware threats were already keeping UK organizations and businesses up at night. Arguably the most lucrative type of cybercrime, hackers are adapting their access and data extraction strategies, finding ways to be more efficient, and cash in big time. With these threats becoming more sophisticated, official guidance remains the same – keep an offline back up of all data present in your system, and do not engage with ransom communications.

To further tackle this growing menace, the UK government has invested a whopping £2.6 billion in its Cyber Security Strategy, with the NCSC and private industries teaming up to use AI for better threat detection and security.

Additionally, the Bletchley Declaration, announced at the AI Safety Summit, is a global effort to manage the risks of frontier AI and ensure it develops safely and responsibly. The UK is all in, with the AI sector employing 50,000 people and contributing £3.7 billion to the economy. The government is determined to keep up with the tech evolution and create jobs in the process.

If that’s not enough to give you peace of mind, experts also question the effectiveness of these AI models, saying most models are still limited by the quality and quantity of data they’re trained on. Lindy Cameron, CEO of the NCSC, reminds us that while AI in cyber attacks is a game-changer, it’s not turning the whole cyber world upside down just yet. It’s more of an evolution than a revolution. She’s urging organizations and individuals to follow the NCSC’s advice on ransomware and cyber hygiene to stay ahead of the game.

While AI has certainly caused a shake-up to cyber security, the threat is still new and yet to develop into something of high risk. However, AI’s development is unstoppable, and will consistently improve in what it can do, including carrying our cyber threats. Get your cyber security measures in now, and reap the rewards of protecting your valuable data in the future.


Molly Forsyth

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