MONTREAL — Technological advances in artificial intelligence are fuelling a new race between hackers and those toiling to protect cybersecurity networks.Cybersecurity is always a race between offence and defence but new tools are giving companies that employ them a leg up on those trying to steal their data.Whereas past responses to cybercrimes often looked for known hacking methods long after they occurred, AI techniques using machine learning scan huge volumes of data to detect patterns of abnormal behaviour that are imperceptible to humans.Experts expect machines will become so sophisticated that they’ll develop answers to questions that humans won’t clearly understand.David Decary-Hetu, assistant professor of criminology at the University of Montreal, says defenders have an edge right now in using artificial intelligence.From tech giants to banks, demand for AI talent turns once-staid conference into recruiting draft dayEthical worries are beginning to slow down Alphabet’s AI health-care initiative“But who knows what’s going to happen in a few years from now,” he said in an interview.“The main issue is that if you’re defending a system you have to be good 100 per cent of the time, but when you’re attacking the system you only have to be successful once to get in.”Decary-Hetu said a growing list of corporate and government officials, including Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz, who say infiltrations are their top worry have a very good reason to fear.The Bank of Canada warned in its semi-annual review released this month that the high degree of interconnectedness among Canadian financial institutions means any successful cyberattack could spread widely throughout the financial system.Reports suggest cybercrime costs the Canadian economy between $3 billion and $5 billion a year, including ransom paid to foreign criminals.Hacks of Sony Pictures, Uber, Ashley Madison, Yahoo and multinational retailers have sparked unsettling headlines about security of personal information.One of the latest to face scrutiny is global credit-reporting firm Equifax. Hackers accessed the personal information, including names, social insurance and credit card numbers, as well as usernames, passwords and secret question/secret answer data of 19,000 Canadians and 145.5 million Americans.Current detection systems tend to only recognize improper activity based on past events, often long after the damage is done.An example of this is Equifax, which discovered the breach in July, months after hackers first infiltrated the system. It only notified the public in early September.Niranjan Mayya, founder and CEO of Toronto-based Rank Software, said it takes on average 143 days for a breach to be detected.The challenge is growing as the number of connected devices in the world continues to soar.“Clearly the old style techniques of looking at cybersecurity threats and having people go through each threat aren’t working anymore, so automated means of detecting threats has become more and more important,” he said.David Masson, Canadian manager for U.K.-based Darktrace, said artificial intelligence will help to keep up with threats by quickly identifying and stopping attacks by picking up on subtle markers that identify bad behaviour.He said his company’s systems map a customer’s entire network, including every user and device, to discern even the slightest deviations as they emerge.Masson said AI is needed to keep up with threats by automating defence responses to growing machine-on-machine attacks launched by sophisticated hackers.“You’re kind of looking at a cyber arms race,” he said in an interview.“If you want to keep up with this threat and put the advantage back in the hands of the defenders you’re gonna have to use AI.”Ontario-based utilities company Energy+ Inc. said installed Darktrace technology alerted it to a user going to a malware site in Russia and uploading undisclosed sensitive data to a third-party cloud provider that its existing security was unable to catch.Some observers temper the current exuberance about AI, saying it’s not a silver bullet and these are nascent days for the technology.Receptiviti CEO Jonathan Kreindler says the hype around artificial intelligence has accelerated and has almost become a branding exercise for some companies that aren’t even offering truly leading edge technology.“The term AI is now being applied to any sort of algorithmic reasoning unfortunately,” said Kreindler.His firm uses AI to scour writings for unconscious use of language to understand the psychological state of company insiders who are responsible for 80 per cent of cybersecurity issues.Canada’s largest IT company, CGI Group, said artificial intelligence is a growing field of interest for customers, although the average client is in the fairly early stages of considering AI adoption in cybersecurity.CGI cybersecurity expert Andrew Rogoyski said that still puts them one step ahead of most hackers, who are typically interested in stealing data using the cheapest tools possible.Rogoyski added that he expects a strengthening of defensive mechanisms might force hackers to also adopt innovative techniques such as AI.“There’s a race, it’s been going on for 20 years plus and the race just keeps evolving. We keep leapfrogging each other,” he said.
Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedEnvironmental Impact Assessment for Liza Phase 2 underway- ExxonJanuary 18, 2018In “Business”Govt grants production Licence to ExxonMobilJune 16, 2017In “Business”EPA outsources consultancy firm to conduct Liza Phase 2 EIAMay 12, 2018In “Business” The Noble Bob Douglas drillship has completed the first phase drilling of seven wells, ExxonMobil’s new Public and Government Affairs Director, Deedra Moe, was quoted by the Department of Public Information (DPI) today as saying.“They are going back in and doing the second phase so they are on track to do that.” First oil from Liza phase one is expected in 2020. ExxonMobil is also participating with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) consultations for Liza Phase two development.The US oil-giant has also submitted its development plan for Liza phase two to the government and it is expected to begin in 2023 pending the approval of permits and the company’s FID, DPI said.Meanwhile, Moe said the company is “finishing up” work at the Longtail field, its most recent discovery. An evaluation of the find is expected sometime next week.It is expected that the estimated value of the Stabroek Block will increase following the evaluation of Longtail. “We’re still saying 3.2M [barrels oil equivalent] but that is what they are looking to update,” Moe cautioned.Exxon is in the process of finalising arrangements to introduce a second drillship in its exploration operations. The vessel will be in Guyana later this year to begin exploration drilling in the southwest area of the Stabroek Block. It will compliment drilling being done by the Stena Carron.ExxonMobil has had an 80 percent success rate in its offshore exploration.Moe takes over from Kimberly Brasington who has served in the position for more than two years. “I’ve a lot to learn but I am excited to be here,” she told DPI. She took over from Brasington at the start of the month.Moe had worked with Exxon’s downstream operations in the United States before coming to Guyana. “I’m excited to be moving back into upstream where I’ve worked before … I really look to continue the communications work that Kimberly and the team have done here,” she said.