Artificial intelligence, the new hope to stop computer attacks


Lisbon – Hackers do not work with office hours or repeat the tricks used in the last attack. In an ever-changing world, artificial intelligence (AI) is presented as the hope of stopping threats that humans can not reach.

Attacks in untimely hours, so fast that in just 20 seconds, encrypt half of a company's equipment or that access through devices as unexpected as an aquarium has rendered traditional defense systems obsolete.

Given the new threats, more and more companies are betting on AI, as is the case with Darktrace, one of the pioneers in taking advantage of the self-learning capability and autonomous response of this technology to tackle the fastest and most unknown computer attacks.

"The reality is that if anyone wants to get into their network, they will do it, the attacks are new and they are constantly changing, it is impossible to predict what they will be like," said Darktrace's chief marketing officer in an interview with Efe. Emily Orton, who participated in the Web Summit in Lisbon.

Therefore, it is not enough to protect only the external perimeter of a network, it is necessary to find a defensive system that allows to stop the threats that have managed to overcome these barriers before the damage is irreparable.

This was the premise followed by a group of Cambridge mathematicians and intelligence experts from the US government to design the UK-based Darktrace defense system in the United States.

Its technology resembles the immune system of the human being: although the skin protects from external threats, there are viruses and bacteria that can cross that barrier, so it is necessary a defense able to adapt and protect against the unknown.

This is where artificial intelligence comes in and its ability to learn autonomously, quickly collect all information left by hackers and respond in a short time, even if the threat is unknown until a few seconds ago.

"The most promising thing about AI is that it follows the attacks constantly, because it is based on self-learning, it learns on its own, autonomously," said Orton, a cyber security expert, who says that "a human being can not answer alone to these attacks. "

Hackers are becoming increasingly creative – "We've seen attacks through an aquarium, a coffee maker and a thermostat," says Orton, "so a technology like AI is essential to avoid problems.

Little by little, confidence in this new technology is increasing and different organizations are more cautious, thanks in part to large-scale attacks like WannaCry, which in 2017 took advantage of a gap in Microsoft's Windows operating system to reach 200,000 computers in 150 countries.

"At that time, people realized that they needed better systems, and that they should start using tools like artificial intelligence and rely on it to act autonomously and respond," said the Darktrace manager.

You may find obsolete systems that make them "increasingly vulnerable to very sophisticated invaders with criminal or political motivations," he lamented.

"Citizens rely on them, you trust that the lights will come on and you will have water, it should be a priority from the government's point of view," recalled Orton, adding that given the global nature of the attacks, more international cooperation is needed to address them.


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