MIT Warns of Ransomware in the Cloud, Weaponized AI

Scott Ferguson

How secure will the cloud be in the coming 12 months? Researchers at MIT are warning about two specific security threats that IT should keep an eye on throughout 2018.

In an article entitled "Six Cyber Threats to Really Worry About in 2018," the MIT Technology Review points to two specific cloud-based threats: ransomware targeting cloud providers and weaponized artificial intelligence.

Ransomware has been an ongoing security headache for the last two years, with attacks such as WannaCry, which infected some 400,000 computers in 150 countries, capturing headlines for their ability to stroke fears about the vulnerability of data, whether it's business related or consumer data. (See Kaspersky Names WannaCry 'Vulnerability of the Year'.)

(Source: StockSnap via Pixabay)
(Source: StockSnap via Pixabay)

Now, however, attackers are turning their attention to the cloud.

In the January 2 piece, MIT warns about ransomware targeting large-scale cloud providers, which can host corporate data, as well as more personal, consumer data such as photos.

While the biggest of the big cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services Inc. , IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), have increased their spending on security, smaller cloud providers without the security resources of these larger firms could prove tempting targets for ransomware attacks.

"But smaller companies are likely to be more vulnerable, and even a modest breach could lead to a big payday for the hackers involved," according to the MIT article.

The other type of attack that is causing concern is the weaponized use of AI, along with machine learning and neural networks.

While some analysts have spoken about using AI to overcome security gaps within the enterprise, MIT views the technology as a double-edged sword. (See Will AI Solve the IT Jobs Shortage?)

Keep up with the latest enterprise cloud news and insights. Sign up for the weekly Enterprise Cloud News newsletter.

Specifically, MIT sees AI being used to create spear phishing attacks, with the technology being used to create thousands of malware-loaded, fake emails at a pace much faster than any human can. MIT also notes:

Hackers will take advantage of this to drive more phishing attacks. They're also likely to use AI to help design malware that's even better at fooling "sandboxes," or security programs that try to spot rogue code before it is deployed in companies' systems.

Cloud is an increasingly tempting target for ransomware and other type of attacks, especially as it continues to grow. A recent analysis of the third quarter of 2017 found that combined infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) markets totaled more than $35 billion. (See AWS, Azure Lead $35B+ Public Cloud Market.)

With all that money and data growing, it's little surprise that cyberattacks will turn their attention to the cloud in 2018.

Related posts:

— Scott Ferguson, Editor, Enterprise Cloud News. Follow him on Twitter @sferguson_LR.

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
1/3/2018 | 9:22:17 AM
well that's not exactly reassuring, though it fits a bit with Elon Musk's warnings about AI a few months back.
1/9/2018 | 12:58:24 PM
Re: warning
Lookin at the worst that can happen, the scenario is indeed a bit scary if in fact that as noted cloud providers and others find "AI being used to create spear phishing attacks, with the technology being used to create thousands of malware-loaded, fake emails at a pace much faster than any human can."
More Blogs from Scott Ferguson

For the last several years, CIOs and IT professionals have been wrestling with two specific issues as they work toward a cloud-centric future: Agile IT and the rush toward digital transformation. While enterprises want to keep innovating, finding a starting point and knowing which projects to tackle first remain a major obstacle.

To get a better handle on Agile IT and digital transformation, Light Reading Managing Editor Scott Ferguson recently spoke to two experts in these fields: Dan Kearnan, senior director of marketing for cloud at SAP, and Roy Illsley, a distinguished analyst with Ovum.

From its roots in industrial farm machinery and other equipment, John Deere has always looked for a technological edge. About 20 years ago, it was GPS and then 4G LTE. Now it's turning its attention to AI, machine learning and IoT.
Artificial intelligence and automation will become more integral to the enterprise, and 90% of all apps will have integrated AI capabilities by 2020, according to Oracle CEO Mark Hurd.
IBM is now offering access to Nvidia's Tesla V100 GPUs through its cloud offerings to help accelerate AI, HPC and other high-throughput workloads.
CIO Rhonda Gass is spearheading an effort to bring more automation and IoT to the factories making Stanley Black & Decker tools and other equipment.
Featured Video
Upcoming Live Events
October 22, 2019, Los Angeles, CA
November 5, 2019, London, England
November 7, 2019, London, UK
November 14, 2019, Maritim Hotel, Berlin
December 3-5, 2019, Vienna, Austria
December 3, 2019, New York, New York
March 16-18, 2020, Embassy Suites, Denver, Colorado
May 18-20, 2020, Irving Convention Center, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events