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AI-Powered Cyber Threats: Small Businesses AI Protection

What are the AI-Powered Cyber Threats? How can small businesses protect themselves?

While artificial intelligence (AI) certainly provides exciting opportunities for businesses of all sizes, it also poses new and emerging cybersecurity risks. As AI capabilities grow from strength to strength, hackers are leveraging AI to launch even more sophisticated attacks on their victims. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) often lack the necessary resources to defend against these threats – but don’t panic. By partnering with a managed IT services provider, you can ensure that the appropriate safety measures are in place to safeguard your business and protect your investment.

In this article, we outline  the various cyber threats that are emerging with AI and how you can effectively combat them. Let’s get stuck in…

What are the AI-Powered Cyber Threats Targeting SMEs today?

Let’s begin with a list of the various cyber threats that are being used to target SMEs today:

  • Spear phishing uses AI to craft personalized emails, increasing the likelihood of human error. Scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated with AI at their disposal.
  • Deepfakes leverage AI to impersonate trusted voices and faces, deceiving employees. This is an especially malicious cyber threat that can be devastating for businesses. While the technology isn’t yet quite perfect, the progress being made is rather frightening.
  • Machine learning detects system vulnerabilities and exploits them faster than humans can patch them (don’t worry, we’ll talk about viable solutions shortly).
  • Natural language generation automates the creation of fake news and false reviews to harm reputations. This can be especially effective if individuals want to damage your company, without stealing anything from you.
  • Intelligent bots increase the scale and efficiency of brute force, password spraying, and DDoS attacks.
  • Automated social engineering uses AI to gain employee trust and trick them into disclosing passwords and other sensitive information.

Without proper safeguards, these AI-enabled attacks can cripple small businesses through data breaches, fraud, ransoms, and more. Again, the technology is only becoming more and more sophisticated so there has never been a better time to take action and safeguard your business than right now!

How to secure your business against AI-powered cyber threats?

The purpose of this article is not to frighten you, but to educate you on the real and possible threats that are out there today. Fortunately, we have several solutions for consideration…

Securing Networks and Endpoints

SMEs can start protecting themselves by securing devices, accounts, and their network perimeter:

  • Require strong passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA). This is an essentiality, especially for growing businesses.
  • Install endpoint detection and response (EDR) software on all devices.
  • Deploy a unified threat management (UTM) firewall.
  • Maintain up-to-date patching of apps, OS, plugins, etc.
  • Encrypt sensitive business and customer data.
  • Back up data regularly with air-gapped storage.
  • Consider cloud-based computing with reputable providers.

The above are excellent security measures that can also secure your business from other threats as well – not just AI.

Fire with fire: Consider fighting AI with AI

Arguably the most effective way to defend against AI cyber threats is by also using AI. While AI can certainly seem quite frightening for those who don’t fully understand it, rest assured that AI can indeed be used as a force of good. Here are some examples:

  • AI-enhanced phishing filters stop evolving social engineering tactics.
  • User-behaviour analytics profiling can be used to detect account takeovers.
  • Intelligent threat hunting uncovers concealed threats missed by other, less sophisticated tools.
  • Automated responses quickly isolate and remediate attacks.

AI capabilities are now used in many IT security platforms. Partnering with experts in AI and cybersecurity is key for implementation – especially if you are not particularly tech-savvy or do not have a dedicated in-house department to tackle these issues.

Making the Case for Outsourcing IT Security

Most SMEs lack the in-house expertise and resources to fully operationalize AI-enhanced IT security all by themselves. But don’t stress if this applies to you because there are many businesses out there whose sole job is to protect SMEs like you! Managed IT service providers provide a range of advantages for you to leverage, such as:

  • 24/7 monitoring by specialized security professionals.
  • Ongoing maintenance of AI cyber tools with frequent updates.
  • Regular cybersecurity awareness training for employees. This is especially important for helping your staff recognise potential threats before they cause irreparable damage.
  • Latest threat intelligence to identify emerging risks and provide the appropriate safety responses.
  • New security techniques are implemented as and when they emerge.

By outsourcing your day-to-day IT-related security tasks, SME leadership can focus their attention on core business goals. In other words, you can relax in the knowledge that your business is safe from external cyber threats and focus your attention on growing your business and taking care of your valued customers instead.

You can’t put a price on peace of mind!

Choosing the Right IT Security Partner

To choose the right IT security provider to support your business, you’ll need to consider the following:

  • Ask them about their experience with fighting AI-powered attacks. While this is definitely a new field, there are plenty of businesses with knowledge and experience in this regard.
  • Ensure they offer awareness training on the latest social engineering tactics. Again, it always helps to ensure that your employees are up to speed.
  • Make sure that they meet best practice frameworks set out by the authorities.
  • Discuss AI capabilities included in their endpoint, network, and cloud security offerings.
  • Check that they monitor emerging dark web threats related to your sector.
  • Require AI-specific expertise on their cybersecurity team.

Any reputable IT support provider should offer 24/7 vigilance, allowing you to focus on your customers and grow your business.

Conclusion

While AI certainly offers the power to unlock new opportunities for SMEs, it also empowers cybercriminals with more sophisticated attacks. By partnering with a managed IT services provider equipped with AI-enhanced security, however, you can confidently embrace new technologies and thrive in the digital economy.

Yes, AI is rather frightening, particularly given the many grey areas and unanswered questions. However, rest assured that there are many people out there doing their utmost to ensure that AI is used to safeguard businesses against those who would seek to exploit it.

We hope that you’ve found this article insightful. If you have any questions or would like to know more about how we can help safeguard your business against external cyber threats, please do not hesitate to contact us today.