Almost all IT security leaders getting ready for era of AI-powered attacks: study

Close to 100% of the executives were found to be preparing for the possibility of their organizations being targeted by malicious actors leveraging self-learning technology

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As many as 96% of IT security leaders are now preparing for the emergence of AI-powered cyberattacks, with many embracing AI defenses, according to findings released last week. 

The study by MIT Technology Review found that the top three most concerning attacks were email attacks (74%), ransomware (73%) and cloud-based attacks (68%). In addition, 68% expect AI to be used for impersonation and spear-phishing attacks, while 60% believe that human-driven responses fail to keep up with automated cyberattacks, according to UK-based cybersecurity company Darktrace.  

The study surveyed over 300 C-level executives, directors and managers worldwide between December 2020 and January 2021 to understand how they address present and future cyber threats, Darktrace said.

The report also includes insights on the security challenges of "fearware", highly targeted scam emails that have exploited the public's fears around the pandemic.

"Of the individuals surveyed for this report, 60% are C-level executives and directors," commented Laurel Ruma, Editorial Director, US at MIT Technology Review. "From the results, it is clear that cyber security is a real and significant issue for business leaders – and AI is going to play a very big part in securing all enterprises."

"These findings show that we are at a watershed moment and business executives are preparing for a new era of attacks," commented Nicole Eagan, Chief Strategy & AI Officer at Darktrace. "Approaches that are based on analyzing historical attacks will be ill-equipped to defend against Offensive AI. A fundamentally new approach using self-learning technology and autonomous response will be necessary to augment human security teams."

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