The Secret Friendship between Machine Learning and Hackers

The Secret Friendship between Machine Learning and Hackers

Naveen Joshi 03/09/2018 5

With benefits come potential risks too. Who would have ever thought that hackers could use machine learning (ML) for criminal activities? Well, it looks like they can, and here’s how.

Due to its path-breaking innovation, ML has become one of the hottest buzzwords in the last few years. The ability to make machines learn from past experiences without being explicitly programmed helped ML gain everyone’s attention. ML has disrupted various industries, including healthcare, retail, and manufacturing, with its incredible features. However, every technology comes with its own set of drawbacks that experts should identify and resolve at the earliest. One of the significant applications of ML is in the field of cybersecurity. On the one hand, ML is helping to overcome various security related vulnerabilities, on the other hand it is assisting hackers too. In this article, we will discuss how ML can defeat cyber threats and at the the same time how hackers can use ML in their hacking activities. 

Tackling Cyber Frauds with Machine Learning

ML’s ability to learn in real-time helps companies to analyze any suspicious activity in their security network and resolve it proactively. With its self-learning feature, ML can learn from its previous mistakes or past data breaches and predict similar vulnerabilities for the future, helping companies to reduce the time they invest in remediation. Furthermore, ML can process large swarms of datasets - structured or unstructured - and detect anomalies in real-time, if any. ML can also make systems and software self-learn and assist humans in crucial decision-making. While, ML can help us overcome cyber frauds, it can also assist hackers as well. This is definitely an important fact that cannot be denied.

How do Hackers use Machine Learning

It is quite ironical how hackers benefit themselves with ML. The technology was first aimed at detecting and protecting businesses from such threats. So, is there a secret friendship flourishing between ML and hackers that we are unaware of? Yes, there is.

  • Malware creation - Hackers invest a lot of their time in creating malware that is then pushed into organizational systems. They have to write long and complex codes to develop malware, such as adware, rootkit, bug, spyware, before injecting them into a system. ML can help hackers to create malware. One of the examples of ML helping creating a malware was presented in a report named “Generating Adversarial Malware Examples for Black-Box Attacks Based on GAN,” which states how algorithms were built to develop malware that could easily find another path to security systems.

  • Phishing emails - ML has incredible applications, such as NLP, voice recognition, and text-to-speech, that help companies offer sophisticated ways to run their business. Hackers can use ML and its applications for writing a believable mail by training the ML system with legitimate mails and creating similar mails that could be sent to targets.

  • Destroying the ML system - ML gathers large masses of datasets and works on them. But what if the input data is poisoned? Will the ML system still work fine? No, it won't. Hackers can destroy the input datasets on which the ML systems work to make the system corrupted.

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  • Derick Williams

    Machine learning algorithms will improve security solutions. But they are also going to help threat actors launch bigger, more complex attacks.

  • Billy Cadden

    Hackers are building their own machine learning tools to launch attacks.

  • Kate Mottram

    The iterative aspect of machine learning is important because as models are exposed to new data, they are able to independently adapt.

  • Eric Taylor

    When hackers create malware, they don't just look to breach a business. They also often want to remain within victims' systems for as long as possible.

  • Thomas Jensen

    Machine learning could be utilized by cybercriminals to modify the code of new malware samples based on the ways in which security systems detect older infections.

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Naveen Joshi

Tech Expert

Naveen is the Founder and CEO of Allerin, a software solutions provider that delivers innovative and agile solutions that enable to automate, inspire and impress. He is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience, with extensive experience in customizing open source products for cost optimizations of large scale IT deployment. He is currently working on Internet of Things solutions with Big Data Analytics. Naveen completed his programming qualifications in various Indian institutes.

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