Do you talk to Google or Siri? For millennials, talking to computers was a TV fantasy found on Star Trek or Knight Rider. But now, fantasy is brought to life through developments in technology. Voice recognition and masking software is advancing and becoming more and more commonly accessible. We ask Google or Siri questions daily, we speak into language learning software to practice the language we are learning and we can speak into our phone to send a text message. Progress in these technological developments allows a broader public to enjoy the improving performance of vision, language, and speech understanding and synthesis technology. These developments help us accomplish common, daily tasks and we can appreciate the help we get from computers. Leaders in the computer security industry often talk about how the ability of technology to learn and recognize patterns will improve security. However, that security doesn’t always come with warm reassurances.
Using the Good for Bad
These same developments that help computer users accomplish more can be used against the greater good. Over the years, cybercrime has escalated and is becoming more automated with these same technological advances. Last year, James R. Clapper, director of National Intelligence, noted in his annual review of security that while advances in artificial intelligence systems would make some things easier and contribute to improved efficiency and performance, vulnerabilities of cyberspace would grow.
Cybercriminals exploit admirable human qualities like trust and willingness to help others in order to achieve their goals through social engineering and deceptive social media campaigns. Social engineering manipulates people into doing something or divulging sensitive information. For example, artificial intelligence researcher DeepMind has developed a program, WaveNet, that mimics human voices and sounds more streamlined and natural when compared to other text-to-speech systems. Can you envision the potential danger for this technology?
Imagine receiving a phone call from a family member or friend. You could have an entire conversation and not realize that you were talking to a stranger operating their computer. Additionally, a program called Blackshades allows people without any technical skills to install ransomware or eavesdrop on people using video or audio technology with just a click of the mouse. In the movie “Snowden,” you can see how easy it is for government agencies to accomplish this. Can you imagine if just anybody could click that button and watch you or listen to your private conversations?
Even with all of the malicious programs out there, there are programs that offer defense. Within your internet travels, you may have been asked to enter a CAPTCHA code on certain websites or trying to complete a task. CAPTCHA — Completely Automated Public Turing Test to tell Computers and Humans Apart — can block artificial intelligence programs from stealing online accounts and information. However, there is machine vision software that can undermine the CAPTCHA, exposing it to vulnerability. A surprising curtail to such mischievous A.I. has been the use of “electronic sweatshops,” opened to use low-cost or free human labor to decode CAPTCHAs for small fees or trades. Free or cheap labor is hard to compete with, so this tactic has actually slowed down production of harmful A.I. programs.
Technology changes daily, so it’s important to stay on top of what cyber threats and defense systems are available to make sure you keep your data and privacy secure.
At CMIT, this is one of our specialties! To learn more about how CMIT can help ensure your cyber safety and security, give us a call!
CMIT Solutions of Centreville provides a strategic approach to IT consulting that improves performance of your business technology in the most cost-effective way possible. Assisting businesses in Centreville, Chantilly, Dulles, Gainesville, Manassas and Haymarket, we can help you achieve the fastest return on your technology investment. Call 703-881-7738 today to see how we can help your business stay in business.