Mitigating AI Cybersecurity Risks

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Mitigating AI Cybersecurity Risks

How AI works with positive and negative objectives, and how to mitigate risks from both angles.

With the importance of artificial intelligence (AI) continuously growing as companies implement it in their day-to-day functions, business owners and employees must ensure they are prepared. In the right hands, AI can be an incredible asset that boosts productivity and enables companies to work more efficiently. In the wrong hands, AI can be a conduit for bad actors to wreak havoc.

Common misunderstandings of AI

Many common misconceptions are at the core of both reassurance and distrust in the transition to more AI-related functions. People must understand its true capabilities when combined with positive, negative, or neutral intent, and learn how to combat the risks while enjoying the benefits.

Most myths related to AI stem from the fact that it is misunderstood. Thanks to common portrayals in TV shows and movies, many perceive AI as an all-powerful, self-aware entity committed to taking over jobs and conquering the world. Jason Monroe, Solution Consultant at Bit-Wizards, believes people are hesitant to implement AI in their company functions, let alone in their personal lives, because of this negative portrayal.

“People are inherently apprehensive of new technological developments they do not understand,” Monroe says. “Thankfully, these concerns of AI creating competition and threatening businesses are far out.”

Despite what you may think, AI like OpenAI's ChatGPT:

  • Can’t function without human input 
  • Isn’t going to take over the world 
  • Doesn’t have emotions or self-awareness 
  • Isn’t inherently unethical 
  • Can’t replace real people in jobs 
  • Isn’t true AI—it’s technically a Large Language Model (LLM)
benefits of AI

What are the benefits of AI?

Once you pass the hurdles that stem from popular AI myths, there’s a world of benefits to discover. The list of possible benefits is endless based on how you want to use it and what you input.

Chatbots offer benefits related to productivity and creativity. You can ask a chatbot to help you write a wide variety of content, whether it’s a social media post caption, a novel, a presentation, or anything in between. If you need to write a detailed email to a prospective client or a list of interview questions for potential new hires, AI can help you create drafts and improve your writing. Any writing task that may normally take an hour can be completed in seconds.

When implemented in business functions outside content development, AI can provide a more holistic view while automating and shortening typically time-consuming processes. Programs like Microsoft 365 Copilot can identify trends in large data sets, summarize lengthy copy in a few sentences, and catch you up on hours’ worth of missed conversations and emails in minutes. Brian Schlechter, MITS Technical Team Manager at Bit-Wizards, says AI can help employees be more proactive than reactive.

“By handling automated processes, AI can free up your employees to do other things,” Schlechter explains. “It can take on complicated tasks with a heuristic perspective to help speed up productivity.”

risks of AI hallucination

What are the risks of AI?

Despite its perks, AI has various limitations and potential risks. Although AI is perceived as a perfect system that doesn’t need maintenance, systems that use AI must be constantly monitored and audited. AI will only work with human input, and the quality of its output heavily depends on the quality of the input. Additionally, chatbots have historically made mistakes in “hallucinating” and providing factually inaccurate information. In any case, a human must monitor AI output and provide feedback to prevent repetitive errors.

“Just because AI can write doesn’t mean it’s got it right,” Monroe quips. “It’s still a machine—it needs a human to give it data and make sure the output makes sense.”

Additionally, not all AI programs are created equally. Major AI developers like OpenAI established stopgaps to ensure their respective programs would not comply with malicious or questionable requests. If an AI was developed without specific parameters related to ethics and values, Schlechter speculates it could miss negative indicators and fulfill malicious requests the developers may have failed to consider.

“Since we all use AI built by other people, we have to rely on the safeguards and values that they’ve built into it,” Schlechter says. “If those values don't match what's expected, negative outcomes are entirely possible."

Hackers can take these limitations and use them to their advantage in executing cyberattacks and other nefarious attempts. In the wrong hands, AI that is unbiased and developed ethically can be used with malicious intent. Instead of worrying that chatbots will attempt to bypass your company’s cybersecurity measures, Monroe says business owners should be concerned about hackers using AI to their advantage.

“Since AI always requires human interaction, it won’t decide one day that it feels like breaking into your business’ network,” Monroe explains. “It’s going to be used by a bad actor who wants to write code or create a virus to achieve their goals.”

Hackers often use AI to their advantage in:

  • Crafting copy for phishing emails 
  • Writing ransomware code 
  • Checking pre-written code for errors 
  • Creating deepfakes using another person’s appearance and voice 
Protect my business from AI security risks

How can I protect my business from AI security risks?

Just as there’s no all-in-one solution to stop hackers from accessing your network, there's no foolproof method of protection against AI in the hands of bad actors. Despite this, you can still implement several measures to mitigate the overall risks that chatbots and other forms of AI may pose to your business.

1. Research your AI tool’s privacy policy

Like other standard services and platforms, AI providers like OpenAI have privacy policies for their tools. Additionally, privacy and security standards may vary between providers. The main concern for businesses when using chatbots is that some platforms may retain information from queries while others do not.

Regardless of a tool's privacy policy, it’s best to avoid the inclusion of private or proprietary details when interacting with AI in any form. If an employee includes details about clients, other employees, or company data in its requests, that information could be leaked in a cyberattack or included in an answer to another user’s query. Business owners must review an AI provider's privacy policy before using it to ensure that sensitive information remains protected.

2. Set user guidelines for your employees

Whether you have yet to implement AI in your business or have just started, ensure you establish clear guidelines for how employees are expected to interact with it. By failing to develop and communicate policies to your team, you risk sharing sensitive information that may be stolen or leaked in a cyberattack. Your employees must understand each element of your company's AI procedures, be reminded of policies periodically, and complete training if necessary.

Here are some standard pointers that should be included in your company's AI policy:

  • Never share personal information about employees or clients 
  • Do not include proprietary information about the business 
  • Always review the AI response before using it 
  • Report any concerns with incorrect answers or other errors 

3. Follow standard cybersecurity protocols

Even with widespread excitement over using AI, your business must remain vigilant in cybersecurity best practices. Ensure your company has a comprehensive plan to respond to AI-related cyberattacks and traditional threats. Typically, cyberattacks that use AI to their advantage resemble regular attempts, so your company's cyber safety may be fortified if your day-to-day measures are secure. Instead of monitoring for abnormally sophisticated attempts, your employees should be vigilant against all potentially harmful emails, links, and other risks since AI-fueled attacks are likely amid traditional attempts.

For businesses that could use a security boost against AI and non-AI related attacks, Bit-Wizards is here to help. Our Managed IT Services (MITS) team takes a multilayered approach to security, protecting your business from various threats while helping to increase adaptability, efficiency, and resiliency.

Ready to implement innovative solutions for your company's IT? Contact us today.

Author

Natalie Ewing, Content Writer
Natalie C. Ewing

Content Writer