SecurityBrief Asia logo
Asia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Safeguarding against AI-based cyber-attacks

By Contributor
Thu 31 Oct 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Article by Wontok product head Bruce Carney

Never a day goes by without headlines of yet another cyber-attack, data breach or identity theft - even boardrooms have finally become familiar with terms like "ransomware" - an alien concept in the past that belonged to the "geeks in IT".

Businesses, education institutions, and indeed all levels of government have become more aware of the damage such actions can inflict.

Criminals continue to use old-school methods such as phishing scams to lure their victims but they also have a keen eye on the next technological step where more sophisticated tools and techniques are employed to dupe people.

We've now seen the advent of artificial intelligence being used for cybercrime, with a recent widely reported case a flavour of what's to come.

In March, the CEO of a UK-based energy firm received a phone call from his "boss" - or so he thought - who runs its German parent company.

His "boss" instructed him to transfer €220,000 to a Hungarian supplier, saying it was urgent and needed to be done in an hour.

The UK chief executive had no reason to question the authenticity of the call as he recognised his boss's slight German accent and tone of voice, the company’s insurance firm, Euler Hermes Group SA revealed.

He had no reason to believe it was all a hoax, and could well be one of the first voice-spoofing cybercrimes using AI-based software.

Does this sound familiar?

Remember world-renowned hacker Kevin Mitnick? He gained notoriety after his social engineering skills landed him behind bars.

Mitnick would call big US corporations and obtain key information by gaining the trust of employees.

In fact, when he was a teenager, he once phoned the system manager at Digital Equipment and posed as "Anton Chernoff", one of DEC's lead developers.

"Anton" told the manager he had trouble logging in to the company's dial-up modem (Mitnick's friends found an old, discarded unit) and was immediately provided with login details and high-level access to DEC's internal systems.

Voice phishing or using social engineering over the phone to gain personal and financial information isn't new, and criminals use modern tools and technologies such as caller ID spoofing to hide their true location (and identity).

Fraudsters using AI to mimic voices - as per the European energy firm case - is just an evolution in technology: it's akin to how modern-day layby services such as Afterpay and Zip have gained overnight popularity.

The layby or buy now, pay later concept isn't new but these startups have used new technology - combining online, mobile apps and a great interface and user experience - to completely reinvent the way goods and services are purchased.

Nothing much has changed since Mitnick conned DEC some 40-odd years ago when he was 16: humans can still be gullible in this day and age.

Another information-gathering technique has been to call and hang up when a person answers - purportedly to build a voice/biometric profile for identity theft.

Some organisations offer voice as a replacement for passwords to confirm a customer's identity by relying on hundreds of unique characteristics.

ANZ Bank's app, for example, allows customers to pay anyone over $1000 and make BPAY payments of more than $10,000 by using the phrase "my voice confirms my identity".

While there haven't been widespread reports of voice phishing or deepfakes locally, criminals thrive on being ahead of the game and AI is just one of many tools in their arsenal. We cannot fight against this tide but need to urgently adopt a "trust but verify" mindset and approach.

We can trust but always verify a request - whether its someone on the other line, a friend or contact who sends through a link to click on or a text message with a call to action.

We can only manage and control our own behaviour and how we react to and protect from these scams.

Bruce Carney is the newly appointed product head at global cybersecurity firm Wontok.

He started his career as a Research Engineer at the University of Newcastle, and has had senior roles at Atlassian, Telstra and Nokia in Australia, the US and UK.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Bitdefender, Cohesity, Fortinet & MODIFI
We round up all job appointments from June 27-30, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Juniper study reveals top AI trends in APAC region
Juniper's research shows an increase in enterprise artificial intelligence adoption over the last 12 months is yielding tangible benefits to organisations.
Story image
Research
New study reveals 51% of employees using unauthorised apps
The research shows that 92% of employees and managers in large enterprises want full control over applications, but they don't have it.
Story image
Cyber Criminal
Identity and access: the fight is on
Blue team defenders are used to protecting our data, applications, and users with access controls and other security mechanisms, which is why attacks like this are especially challenging when they target identity and access control systems.
Story image
Network Security
Netskope announces zero trust network access updates
Customers can now apply zero trust principles across a range of hybrid work security needs, including SaaS, IaaS, private applications, and endpoint devices.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CrowdStrike
Scott Jarkoff joins us today to discuss current trends in the cyber threat landscape, and the reporting work CrowdStrike is doing to prevent further cyber harm.
Story image
Ransomware
Secureworks reveals new information on BRONZE STARLIGHT threat group
New research from Secureworks has uncovered new information on the Chinese threat group BRONZE STARLIGHT and how they are using targeted ransomware to initiate complicated attacks.
Story image
Yubico
New research shows global drive for passwordless authentication
A new study has shown there has been a significant shift towards wanting a passwordless future, but adoption is still in its infancy.
Story image
Motorola Solutions
Motorola Solutions deploys communication system to 5th Japanese airport
Motorola Solutions with its partner, Nippon Airport Radio Services deployed the mission critical communication system to Kansai.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - ActiveCampaign, Arcserve, LogRhythm & Qlik
We round up all job appointments from June 17-22, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Cloud Security
Palo Alto Networks bolsters cloud native security offerings
Latest Prisma Cloud platform updates help organisations continuously monitor and secure web applications with maximum flexibility.
Story image
HP Inc
Firmware attacks significant threat in age of hybrid work
Changing workforce dynamics are creating new challenges for IT teams around firmware security, according to new research.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Significant security concerns resulting from open source software ubiquity
"The risk is real, and the industry must work closely together in order to move away from poor open source or software supply chain security practices."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Vulnerable APIs costing businesses billions every year
Large companies are particularly vulnerable to the security risks associated with exposed or unprotected APIs as they accelerate digital transformation.  
Story image
Cybersecurity
Kaspersky opens three new centers to boost data management
Cybersecurity company Kaspersky has opened three new Transparency Centers, one in Japan, the second in Singapore and the third in the United States.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Boomi, Limepay, Thales, VMware & Zoom
We round up all job appointments from June 6-16, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Cybersecurity priorities for digital leaders navigating digital transformation
In recent years, Asia-Pacific has especially been a hotspot for cyberattacks, and as we continue into 2022, it’s evident that the problem is becoming more significant.
Story image
Apple
LastPass announces new capability for iPhones and iPads
LastPass has announced its new save and fill experience, allowing customers to fill in, create and save their credentials directly within the site's form field.
Story image
API
Industry-first comprehensive risk-based API security enhances protection
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial part of operating web and mobile application businesses and are causing significant economic growth in the digital sector.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Email threats spike 101%, remains a top attack vector
"Each year we see innovation in the threat landscape, but each year email remains a major threat to organisations."
Story image
10 Minute IT Jams
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from Rimini Street
Today we welcome back Daniel Benad, who is the GVP & regional GM for Oceania at Rimini Street.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Threat actors ramp up their social engineering attacks
As people get better at identifying potential threats in their inbox, threat actors must evolve their methods. Their new M.O? Social engineering.
Story image
DDoS
Flashpoint unveils security offering for school boards
Flashpoint has released its K-12 risk management and security offering to provide school boards and education security practitioners with tools to recognise, prevent and manage cyber and physical threats.
Story image
Oracle Cloud
Commvault, Oracle to deliver Metallic Data Management as a Service
"We are excited to partner with Commvault and enable our customers to restore and recover their most mission-critical cloud data."
Story image
Digital Transformation
What CISOs think about cyber security, visibility and cloud
Seeking to uncover the minds of CISOs and CIOs across Asia Pacific, my company recently asked Frost & Sullivan to take a snapshot of cloud adoption behaviour in the region.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Abnormal Security finds financial supply chain under threat
New research by Abnormal Security has found a rising trend in financial supply chain compromise as threat actors increasingly impersonate vendors.
Story image
Gartner
Gartner's top recommendations for security leaders
"Leaders now recognise that major disruption is only one crisis away. We can’t control it, but we can evolve our thinking, philosophy, program and architecture.”
Story image
Vendor
Forescout reveals top vulnerabilities impacting OT vendors
Forescout’s Vedere Labs has disclosed OT: ICEFALL, naming 56 vulnerabilities affecting devices from 10 operational technology vendors.
Story image
Internet of Things
ManageEngine wins big in IDC MarketScape assessment
ManageEngine's Endpoint Central service has been recognised as a leader by IDC MarketScape in several categories including Internet of Things device deployments and UEM software for SMEs.
Story image
Infosys
Preparing for the digital decade with the right workforce strategies
For a decade that started under the pall of the pandemic, the 2020s is poised to end with a bang with the digital economy swelling to a high across the world.
Story image
Collaboration
IT and security team collaboration crucial to data security
Many IT and security decision makers are not collaborating as effectively as possible to address growing cyber threats.
Story image
Internet of Things
Domino's Pizza: A blueprint for secure enterprise IoT deployment
Increasingly, organisations are embracing smart technologies to underpin innovations that can enhance safety and productivity in every part of our lives, from industrial systems, utilities, and building management to various forms of business enablement.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Zero trust security adoption rises 27% in just two years
A survey of WAN managers has revealed that multi-factor authentication and single sign-on are the top zero trust features implemented.
Story image
Manufacturing
Sternum joins NXP, collaborates on IoT security and observability
Sternum has announced it has joined the software partner community of NXP Semiconductors, a manufacturer of and large marketplace for embedded controllers.
Story image
Secure access service edge / SASE
Cloudflare adds new capabilities to zero trust SASE platform
New features for Cloudflare One include email security protection, data loss prevention tools, cloud access security broker, and private network discovery.
Story image
Cybersecurity
FIDO Alliance releases guidelines for optimising UX with FIDO Security Keys
The new guidelines aim to accelerate multi-factor authentication deployment and adoption with FIDO security keys.
Story image
INTERPOL
Hundreds arrested, millions seized in global INTERPOL investigation
A two-month-long investigation by INTERPOL this year involved 76 countries and clamped down on organised crime groups behind telecommunications and social engineering scams.
SonicWall
Find out how you and your business can prevent being caught out by everything from ransomware to cryptojacking.
Link image
Story image
Compliance
Stock security features inadequate in face of rising risk
"Organisations must proactively find ways of identifying unseen vulnerabilities and should take a diligent, holistic approach to cybersecurity."
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
Zscaler, AWS accelerate onramp to the cloud with zero trust
Zscaler has announced an extension to its relationship with Amazon Web Services, as well as innovations built on Zscaler's Zero Trust architecture.
Story image
WatchGuard Technologies
Ransomware volume doubled 2021 total by end of Q1 2022
Ransomware detections in the first quarter of this year doubled the total volume reported for 2021, according to a new report. 
Story image
Ransomware
Rapid7 report examines use of double extortion ransomware attacks
New insight into how attackers think when carrying out cyber attacks, along with further analysis of the disclosure layer of double extortion ransomware attacks, has come to light.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Aqua Security, CIS create software supply chain security guide
Aqua Securityand the Center for Internet Security have together released the industry’s first formal guidelines for software supply chain security.
Story image
Identity and Access Management
Ping Identity launches corporate venture capital fund
Ping Identity has launched a corporate venture capital fund to foster innovative offerings for the identity security market.