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AI-generated Email Security Threats: How to Stop Them?

AI- generated Email Security Threats: How to Stop them?
Data Privacy & Security / Software Development / Technology

AI-generated Email Security Threats: How to Stop Them?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a go-to solution for a lot of areas of an organization. Be it automation of marketing strategies or automating supply chain management, AI has been one of the most crucial tools available in the market for quite some time. However, even if AI is effective in cybersecurity and responding to any form of cyber attack, the same tool is being used for email security threats. 

Due to its immense potential, the global AI cybersecurity market is estimated to reach 133.8 billion USD by 2030. But there is no doubt that cybercriminals are also making enormous investments in AI tools to launch more frequent and comprehensive attacks, mostly targeting the email protection of different companies. 

In the past year, AI-generated phishing emails have compromised various organizations as they have higher open rates than conventionally composed phishing emails. Using Artificial intelligence gives the attackers a pattern to identify weaknesses not only in the system but also in the people’s behavior patterns. This, combined with stolen personal information from data on social media or buying patterns can make for a very convincing phishing email to spread malware or steal valuable information.

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Generating Email Security Threats

AI has revolutionized the ways we communicate with each other. With AI tools having many benefits, it also poses challenges to email security. Cybercriminals with the help of AI tools, are finding new and sophisticated ways to exploit its capabilities for malicious purposes.

Creating phishing scams:

Phishing attacks are probably one of the most creative ways AI is contributing to email security threats. An analysis confirmed by Vade detects that between 2016 to 2022, phishing volumes have surpassed 1 billion. The enhancing effects of AI-generated emails considerably lower the specialized knowledge and skills, leading to more and more rise in cybercriminal activities.

Source: Vade Secure

Leveraging AI algorithms help to create personalized emails, making them appear legitimate to unsuspecting recipients. Advanced use of phishing attacks can:

  • Use AI to craft content, writing style, and tone of the emails to mimic those of trusted senders.
  • The use of monitoring AI tools can comb through datasets to exploit specific vulnerabilities and preferences of unsuspecting people. 

Email Spoofing:

Many of you might confuse email spoofing with phishing attacks. While both fall under email cyber-attacks, the main differential point is the motive. Email phishing is done to steal valuable information like banking details, UPI pins, etc. The goal of email spoofing is to impersonate someone’s identity. 

With AI algorithms, cybercriminals can manipulate email headers and sender information. This makes it significantly difficult for traditional email security systems to distinguish between legitimate and spoofed emails. As a result:

  • Cybercriminals get a free pass to impersonate trusted individuals, organizations, or brands.
  • This leads to sending malware into someone’s system or scamming individuals into sending money or other confidential documents.

AI-powered Botnets:

Botnets are networks of compromised computer systems controlled by a group or a single cybercriminal. AI-powered botnets are used to autonomously generate and distribute massive volumes of spam emails, bypassing traditional spam filters and overwhelming email servers. Botnets are famous among cyber threats planning to deliver malware ransomware, and other malicious payloads into your system.

Artificial Intelligence tools can gather and analyze vast amounts of data from various sources. This information helps to deliver huge amounts of spam emails. The problem with AI-powered botnets are:

  • Botnets are usually controlled by a group of cyber attackers. Hence, it becomes difficult to trace the source. 
  • Autonomous and constant distribution of spam emails enables them to bypass traditional spam filters. 
  • Overwhelming volumes of spam emails make the system ineffective in generating email security checks, delivering opportunities for malware, ransomware, and other forms of attacks. 
Anti-Analysis Techniques And Zero-Day Exploits:

See, AIs are gold when it comes to pattern recognition. AI with Machine Learning can help you comb through any data and recognize a pattern. Some highly technically advanced AI algorithms can easily identify previously unknown vulnerabilities (zero-day exploits) in email systems. 

Unfortunately, cybercriminals can use any computer or data system vulnerability to launch sophisticated attacks before patches or security measures are in place. 

Most of these attacks are a second step of the anti-analysis technique. Cybercriminals, with the use of AI tools, can employ strategies to evade detection by security systems and analysis tools. These tools would learn the detection systems used in a particular system and modify their behavior accordingly. 

Some AI tools are so advanced that they can modify code structure, or encryption methods to bypass traditional security measures.

Image And Text Recognition:

Image recognition is a great tool that saves a lot of time and effort. However, we might not be so lucky in the cyber attack department. 

New-generation AI tools can analyze images and text to identify sensitive information within emails. This type of recognition pattern makes it highly challenging for traditional security measures to detect and mitigate them. Cybercriminals can target:

  • A specific type of data through an image, for instance, your birthday which might be an important pin code for banking details. 
  • They can even target credit card numbers, login credentials, or personal information.

You need to understand that depending only on AI tools might enable hackers to create more sophisticated attacks, it can also be leveraged for email security defenses. And only focusing on generating email security checks or secure email getaways isn’t enough in today’s age. 

How Can Organizations Prevent Email Security Threats Through AI?

There is no doubt that AI has been weaponized to create unimaginable comprehensive cyberattacks the world has ever seen. Organizations need to stay updated on the latest AI-driven attack techniques and invest in advanced security measures to combat the evolving landscape of email security threats.

While AI is a logical option for cyberattack measures, its effectiveness depends on a lot of various factors. 

Human Intelligence and Awareness

We have to understand that AI doesn’t possess human intelligence or moral values. However, it has a speed and scale that’s beyond our human capabilities of detection.

But, it doesn’t excuse the fact that quality control from data scientists and threat analysts isn’t effective. Scientists and experts should evaluate system controls, and implement necessary measures for cybersecurity products, helping them enhance their detection capabilities. 

Moreover, user education and awareness are crucial in combating AI-driven email security threats. Unsuspecting users must be educated about the techniques employed by cybercriminals, such as phishing and spoofing. Programs that train to identify and report suspected phishing emails must be conducted. 

Preventive measures like using secure email getaways would help them to develop a heightened sense of security and adopt safe email practices. 

Advanced Threat Detection With Multifaceted Algorithms

A core set of AI algorithms would help your business from any email-borne threats. AI-powered email security solutions that utilize machine learning algorithms to analyze email patterns, behaviors, and content is useful in these matters. 

You can also use Computer Vision to analyze webpage-based and email-based images for anomalies. With ML, advanced threat detection techniques can flag suspicious emails, as well as phishing attempts which often look authentic. A multi-layered algorithm would also be difficult for AI-based cyber threats to detect. At least, you can get enough time to enhance your security systems once your algorithm generates a threat alert. 

Many AI-powered solutions can analyze email content, URLs, and attachments to identify phishing attempts accurately. By using ML and Natural Language Processing (NLP) you can even detect grammatical choices to identify potential business email compromise (BEC) attacks.

Content And Behavioral Analysis

Email security threats are mostly generated using Natural Language Processing like ChatGPT. If you run through the analytics, you would find phishing email examples that use certain grammatical choices or writing styles that are only possible through an extensive combination of AI and NLP. 

Source: Google

As we mentioned before, AI-powered content analysis can identify sensitive information within emails, including personally identifiable information (PII) or confidential data. Use data protection policies within your AI cyber protection system to prevent unauthorized disclosure.

Your advanced AI tools can help you identify and filter the content that might compromise the security of your business. 

Another robust tool is a behavior analysis tool that uses ML to analyze user behavior, identifying patterns and anomalies that may indicate compromised accounts or unauthorized access. These are especially useful for eCommerce companies that require to store customer transactional information. By monitoring email usage patterns and email security checks, AI systems can detect unusual activities to promptly respond to any security breaches. 

Updating Threat Intelligence And Incident Response Time

AI can be used to automate the collection, analysis, and dissemination of threat intelligence data from various sources, including global threat feeds, forums, and security blogs. Organizations can interpret the data and proactively identify emerging threats. 

One of the best things about Artificial Intelligence is that it can modify and learn. So, you can simply use AI technology to learn and implement safeguard techniques from various forums globally, helping your business.

Another way to implement AI in your email protection is through incident response time. AI can automate incident response processes, enabling your business to quickly identify and contain email security breaches. AI-powered software can analyze previous incident data and recommend appropriate remedial actions, facilitating timely resolutions of any present or future attacks. 

AI technology is very useful in allowing email security systems to evolve continually. It is effective in learning from new threats and attack patterns, as well as, improving their ability to detect emerging threats. 

However, to maintain an operative defense, it’s essential to regularly update AI systems, stay informed about evolving email security threats, and constantly monitor AI’s performance.

4 Ways Organizations Can Prevent Email Security Threats Through Ai

4 Essentials Questions To Ask Before Opting For An Email Security Solution

If you are looking for an email security solution for your company, there are many options. But the challenging part is to find the ones that suit your safety measures and your business needs. 

Here is a list of four questions that might help you navigate through a sea of email security solutions available in the market. 

Does this solution prioritize incident response?

Contrary to promises made by security vendors, no cybersecurity solutions can offer 100% detection. Staying protected from email security threats requires a complex amalgamation of technology, tools, and visibility responses along with precision. 

Unfortunately, many email security solutions come with complex and time-consuming results. That happens primarily when companies keep incident response as a secondary focus, risking your data and client data. Find a product that offers enhanced incident response time. This would allow you to detect threats faster and mitigate them with more precision. 

Does it offer scalability and continuous protection?

Opting for a tremendous AI-based email security solution doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on performance and scalability. According to reports by AV- Tests, everyday hackers introduced more than 450,000 new malware variants.

Source: AV-Test

Thus, as cybercriminals keep introducing newer and more innovative ways of attacking, your solution must anticipate and provide countermeasure solutions. Ensure your email security solution can handle peak loads without significant performance degradation. Additionally, you need a scalable solution that can provide better response time. Along with that, the ability to integrate with existing email infrastructure seamlessly.

Is it easy to use and manage?

If your security solution requires more time in maintaining the resource than detecting threats, it’s probably not the best one for you. 

The user interface is very important for efficient administration and user adoption. Look for solutions that make the email security job simple and easy. From the moment you receive a threat alert, the remedy action shouldn’t be more than just a few clicks. 

It is best to opt for features such as a centralized management console, customizable reporting, easy policy configuration, and convenient quarantine management. 

What’s the false positive rate?

Every security measure that includes AI has an accuracy rate and false positive rates. Accuracy measures detect the efficiency of the solution. Your aim must be to choose the one which has better accuracy rates than false positives. 

A high level of accuracy reduces false positives. This ensures that genuine emails are not mistakenly flagged or blocked. There would be some false positives but generally, AI-based solutions learn with time. Before opting for the email security measure, examine the solution’s track record, read customer reviews, and do an independent assessment to gauge its accuracy level. 

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Concluding Thoughts

Unfortunately, the rise in technology will lead to more and more sophisticated attacks by cybercriminals. While AI is a necessary technology for cybersecurity, it cannot guarantee email security. 

You need to invest in savvy applications that have the latest cybersecurity components embedded with them. Customized email software solutions are the answer to your email security threats. Brainium is one of the most reliable and trustworthy software development companies specializing in custom SaaS applications. We can create a cutting-edge custom email software application with a robust API that would provide the ultimate cybersecurity against email hacking for your business. 

What are your primary concerns about cybersecurity? Let us know in the comments!

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