Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Application Security

AI Poised to Drive New Wave of Exploits

Criminals are ready to use AI to dramatically speed the process of finding zero-day vulnerabilities in systems.

Artificial intelligence has significant potential for use in cybersecurity – on both sides of the security battle lines. And you don't have to wait for scenarios out of "The Terminator" to see its impact.

According to Derek Manky, Fortinet's chief, security insights & global threat alliances, AI's use by attackers is a simple matter of economics. "Looking forward, cybercriminals will be looking at increasing their ROI. I think what we'll start to see is the concept of AI fuzzing," he says. "We've seen some interesting research on this."

"Fuzzing" – among a series of predictions in Fortinet's Q3 2018 "Security Prediction Report" – is a technique that has its roots in software quality testing.   The system (or component) being tested is given random input until it crashes, and then the crash is analyzed. From an attacker's point of view, fuzzing can uncover vulnerabilities to exploit.

"Discovering vulnerabilities is still quite manual, very human-driven," Manky says, which makes finding them an expensive process. AI can dramatically speed up the fuzzing process, and it's already been proved in other contexts. "Groups have applied this to gaming, using AI to hack the game and exploit a weakness," Manky says. Moving that experience to finding security exploits is a natural next step.

Attackers can use AI to dramatically shorten the time from finding a problem to creating an exploit, as well. Groups will be "using AI to study code and systems to find vulnerabilities, and then using AI to find the best exploit of those vulnerabilities," Manky says. "This is automatically creating zero-days."

AI, in this context, is a tool for finding the vulnerabilities and exploits, not orchestrating attacks. As that tool is used by more criminal organizations, Manky sees detecting and exploiting zero-days becoming faster and easier, with the cost of those exploits becoming lower and lower on the black market. "From a cybercriminal perspective, the AI becomes a commodity with zero-day mining systems. Zero-days become less expensive and more accessible to hackers," he explains.

Defending a more porous and exploited attack surface is a matter of getting all the basics right, Manky says. "From the CISO perspective, it becomes more important for your patch management to be good, and open collaboration becomes more important," he says. In addition, designing zero-trust architectures that are thoroughly segmented is critical. "You don't want a successful attack gaining access to the rest of the network," Manky explains.

Related Content:

 

Black Hat Europe returns to London Dec 3-6 2018  with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier security solutions and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
97% of Americans Can't Ace a Basic Security Test
Steve Zurier, Contributing Writer,  5/20/2019
How Security Vendors Can Address the Cybersecurity Talent Shortage
Rob Rashotte, VP of Global Training and Technical Field Enablement at Fortinet,  5/24/2019
TeamViewer Admits Breach from 2016
Dark Reading Staff 5/20/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-7068
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-24
Adobe Acrobat and Reader versions 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2017.011.30113 and earlier version, and 2015.006.30464 and earlier have an use after free vulnerability. Successful exploitation could lead to arbitrary code execution .
CVE-2019-7069
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-24
Adobe Acrobat and Reader versions 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2017.011.30113 and earlier version, and 2015.006.30464 and earlier have a type confusion vulnerability. Successful exploitation could lead to arbitrary code execution .
CVE-2019-7070
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-24
Adobe Acrobat and Reader versions 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2017.011.30113 and earlier version, and 2015.006.30464 and earlier have an use after free vulnerability. Successful exploitation could lead to arbitrary code execution .
CVE-2019-7071
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-24
Adobe Acrobat and Reader versions 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2017.011.30113 and earlier version, and 2015.006.30464 and earlier have an out-of-bounds read vulnerability. Successful exploitation could lead to information disclosure.
CVE-2019-7072
PUBLISHED: 2019-05-24
Adobe Acrobat and Reader versions 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2019.010.20069 and earlier, 2017.011.30113 and earlier version, and 2015.006.30464 and earlier have an use after free vulnerability. Successful exploitation could lead to arbitrary code execution .