Cybersecurity and Digital Technologies

Cyber-attacks target our digital infrastructures and assets. The more we are dependent on digital technologies more we are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. These cyber-attacks can rage from cyber wars to viruses, worms, malwares, ransom-wares etc. Cyber-attacks try to crash our machines, rob our data and money. There are several forms of computer crashing. Email-bobbing, trained attacks, virus attacks (web-attacks) etc., are of them.

We have threats to our privacy. There is privacy piracy. Privacy is privatized and sold to the highest bidder. Therefore, there is need of joining hands to demand that our personal data be accepted as common good. It is time to make data a common good. Data is not merely commercial asset. We can use data in real time to guide traffic in our crowed cities and high ways. It can also be used to study the rise and the spread of deadly diseases. There are several other applications of data. Thought as a shared common good. Unfortunately, data brokers are only using data as a commercial asset. Instead of asking how money can be made from data, we may have to ask how data can benefit our society. When data becomes a common good, we may be able to gain control over our private intimate data and defend ourselves from identity theft, ransomware and other deadly cyber-crimes. We badly need this understanding of data as common good and it legal protection today since big companies take advantage of the fact that individuals by themselves have no much bargaining power. The present business model simply asks people to give up all control over personal data which is why we click ‘ I agree’ when faced with long and complicated terms and conditions. Hence, we have to change the way we see data.

There are several forms of cyber-attacks. Most common is hacking. Hacking enables the attacker to access computers and other things linked by the Internet-of -Things. The most important asset that is attacked is our personal data. Either our data is encrypted and used to demand ransom payments or it is diddled or altered to mislead (Email spoofing. SQL Injections, PUPs, Trojan Horses) or even sold for to the highest bidder. There is also spyware that keep a watch over the work of another (cyber stalking) besides that malware that may lead to the crashing of the computer (Cyber vandalism). The are several forms of computer crashing. Email-bobbing, trained attacks, virus attacks (web-attacks) etc., can shut our computers. There are also attempts to shut our access to some websites. Such an attempt is called DDoS attacks. Such an attack overwhelms the target with lot of information that can cause the website to crash. Cross-site Scripting is an important means to steal information/ data from one computer to another. This data theft can be done by password attacks (dictionary attacks, password sniffers, brute -force etc.) drive-by attacks, phishing attacks (Whale phishing), and eavesdropping attacks.

The most lethal of the cyber-attacks are AI-powered attacks. Theses attacks are bound to gather more teeth with passing time. AI can hack several systems including autonomous drones and weapons and convert them into dangerous weapons. It has potency to sharpen the traditional cyber-attacks although it also offers us an ocean of cyber security solutions. It has also become a new platform for cyber criminals to design and conduct new forms of cyber-attacks. Cybercrime is growing by leaps and bounds and we have today those who offer crime as a service (CaaS) that employ skilled hackers to manipulate, exploit and abuse people through the internet of things. Current trends show that cyber criminals are using the internet of things to write and distribute malware and target ransomware attacks. AI ‘bots are also used to disseminate misinformation, fake news, manipulate voice etc. The use of AI ‘ bots’ has potential to disrupt our society built on the basis of trust and bring about trust deficit that will fragment it. The erosion of trust will question the credibility of media and destabilize democracy and Government institutions. Deep fakes will mushroom with AI. Deep fakes is used to impersonate politicians, celebrities, and CEO’s of big companies. It may be also used by totalitarian Governments to target its opponents. Deep voice technologies are used to simulate the voice of potential targets. Thus, often what is not said by the person is alleged as being said by him or her. These can also be used to cheat top CEOs, Government officers and Bank officers.

The paradox is AI is a double-edged sword. It can be used to counter the abuse of AI and check cybercrimes. Changes in cybercrimes run parallel with the growing technology. AI and Machine learning can help in tracking unlawful and ill-intentioned activities on the web by analyzing large quantities of data bases and can signal suspicious activities. AI thus assists in enhancing of overall security architecture and becomes a weapon that helps to prevent cybercrimes and attacks. AI and Machine learning helps to choose the best security options even when we are faced with inadequate data subset. We can choose the best option from the several solutions that are offered by AI to us. AI powered security solutions will grow with new challenges showing up with time. The scope of AI in fighting cybercrime can only grow. Blockchain technology is one of the most powerful tools in the hands of cybersecurity experts. Based on peer-to-peer networks fundamental, all data on the blockchain can be verified by every member on the blockchain. A blockchain creates a near impenetrable network that is almost impossible for hackers to exploit. One of the most accepted model in this regard is zero-trust model which reduces trust assumptions and reduces cyber risks.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao