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AI-boosted cyberattacks pose threat to small businesses

These attacks are designed to deceive employees into revealing sensitive information or downloading malicious software.

The Akira hacker group is suspected of carrying out the cyber attack in Sweden
The Akira hacker group is suspected of carrying out the cyber attack in Sweden - Copyright AFP Chris DELMAS
The Akira hacker group is suspected of carrying out the cyber attack in Sweden - Copyright AFP Chris DELMAS

A recent survey by the World Economic Forum has shown that ransomware attacks have increased by nearly 300 percent, with over 50 percent of these attacks specifically targeting small businesses. This underscores the increasing vulnerability of small enterprises to AI-enhanced cyber-threats.

As the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into business operations accelerates, small businesses are increasingly vulnerable to various AI-driven security threats. Oxford Capital has highlighted the top AI security threats that small businesses must be aware of and prepared to combat in 2024.

The report identifies:

AI-Powered phishing attacks

Phishing attacks have evolved, with cybercriminals now leveraging AI to create highly convincing and personalised emails. These attacks are designed to deceive employees into revealing sensitive information or downloading malicious software.

Automated vulnerability exploits

Hackers are using AI to scan for and exploit vulnerabilities in software systems at an unprecedented speed and scale. Small businesses, often with limited resources for frequent software updates and patches, are at a heightened risk.

Deep fake scams

The rise of deepfake technology poses a significant threat as cybercriminals use AI to create realistic audio and video impersonations of company executives. These deepfakes can be used to manipulate employees into transferring funds or sharing confidential information.

AI-driven ransomware

Ransomware attacks have become more sophisticated with the help of AI, allowing attackers to efficiently target and encrypt critical business data. The automated nature of these attacks means they can occur rapidly and without warning, leaving small businesses little time to react.

Malicious AI bots

AI bots can be used to conduct malicious activities such as credential stuffing, where bots attempt to gain access to accounts using stolen credentials. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable due to typically weaker cybersecurity measures compared to larger enterprises.

Weak passwords

Weak passwords are a major cybersecurity threat for small businesses as they can be easily guessed or cracked, allowing unauthorised access to sensitive information.

The report suggests that small businesses can mitigate AI-driven cybersecurity threats by implementing several key solutions, such as:

  • Strong password policies: Use complex passwords and update them regularly.
  • Multi-factor authentication: Add an extra layer of security to sensitive accounts.
  • Regular software updates: Ensure all systems and applications are up-to-date to close potential vulnerabilities.
  • Employee training: Educate staff on recognizing phishing attempts and other cyber threats.
  • Robust cybersecurity measures: Invest in comprehensive security solutions to detect and respond to threats efficiently.

By adopting these strategies, small businesses can better protect themselves against the increasing risks of AI-enhanced cyberattacks.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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