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Anil K. Antony

Anil is a Venture Architect, Technology Evangelist and a Social Entrepreneur. He is the Executive Director of Cyber India (www.cyberindia.org), a think tank in cyber security and surveillance technologies and the Vice President and a member of board of trustees of Navoothan Foundation (www.navoothan.org), a non-profit focusing on healthcare and empowerment of women.

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Artificial Intelligence Could Be Antidote For Recurring Cyber Attacks

Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence powered security solutions, with the capacity to constantly monitor digital systems, predict and detect upcoming threats and self create preventive solutions, at the same swiftness, could be the ideal antidote

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A vicious file encrypting malware "NotPetya" or "Goldeneye", a variant of Petya - a ransomware that surfaced last year, is once again giving the world a small sample of the havoc that could be caused over the internet by faceless perpetrators. Ransomwares operate by infecting computers, encrypting the data and then by demanding a ransom for its release, with the obliteration of data as the alternative.

NotPeyta first struck several government and business systems in Ukraine before spreading its wings to over 60 countries worldwide. Some of the major early victims included Russian oil giant Rosneft, US pharmaceutical company Merck, Danish shipping firm Maersk and India's largest container port JNPT. The use of ransomware is increasingly common causing individuals and organizations, an astounding loss of over $3 Billion last year.

Our current times have seen every physical device, from household appliances and security cameras to vehicles, in addition to our mobile phones and computers, evolve into 'smart devices' connected to the internet. Large-scale infrastructures including transportation systems, banking systems, power plants, telecommunication systems and nuclear facilities also have their critical control and monitoring systems digitized and connected to the internet.  

This direct integration of the physical world into the digital world has undoubtedly created massive economic benefits, along with improvements in efficiency and accuracy. However, the increasing connectivity also creates the opportunity of remote accessibility to any of these devices and systems - a scenario that could be skillfully exploited by thieves, criminals, terrorist groups and rival nations.  

A deeper look by various security analysts into Notpetya reveals the fact that the hackers behind the attack are not mere criminals with profit-focused intentions, but likely state sponsored political operatives looking to disrupt vital national digital systems, and that the malware is not a simple ransomware, but a complex cyberweapon created to destroy selectively targeted data. It could even have acted as a seed for more sinister cyber infiltrations in the future.

Modern day cyber attacks have the potential to create damages far greater than the conventional ones - at only a fraction of the cost. For instance, according to Lloyd's of London, a major cyber attack on the US power grid could cost up to $1 trillion. These attacks are also highly asymmetric, where the perpetrator could sit in any location across the globe, and target individuals or organizations, without any prior warning.

A growing understanding of the havoc that could be caused by these breaches prompted the Indian Government to draft a national cyber security policy in 2013, and to appoint a national cyber security coordinator in 2014. Earlier this year, our Integrated Defense Staff (IDS) also announced the creation of a special unit for cyber warfare.  

Malwares are getting more advanced and intelligent by the hour, with the current ones already having the capability to change their code dynamically to prevent detection. The traditional anti-virus and security solutions look statistically close to ineffective, with only two of almost sixty security services tested catching the latest ransomware.  

Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered security solutions, with the capacity to constantly monitor digital systems, predict and detect upcoming threats and self create preventive solutions, at the same swiftness, could be the ideal antidote. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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artificial intelligence ransomware rosneft merck

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