We have seen an evolution in the sophistication of cyber attacks that hackers employ to get what they want.

In the beginning, hackers attacked infrastructure and hardware. This included distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, brute force attacks on routers or other pieces of equipment, and simpler protocol-based attacks on firewalls.

From attacks on infrastructure rose more sophisticated attacks on data. Attackers didn’t care about the infrastructure anymore because they found something way more valuable: important data. Malware, botnets, and targeted attacks began to flourish and evolved into direct attacks on individuals. These attacks include identity theft, spear phishing, and other methods of stealing private, personal information.

As the types of attacks evolved over time, so too did the countermeasures organizations employed to combat those attacks. Initially, many of these countermeasures were tools-based defences, like firewalls and antivirus software. As the complexity of attacks increased, these tools needed to be supplemented with human-based defences, which saw the advent of security operations centres and human monitoring of systems.

Clearly, as the adversary became more human, so too did the countermeasure — but that didn’t address the scale of the problem. Information overload became rampant, and the value of intelligence rose. Investigations, digital forensics, and chain of custody became essential, though very effort intensive. Analytics and advanced data processing soon became essential for triage.

The latest evolution in both the type of attacks and countermeasures involves using artificial intelligence (AI). The number of artificial-intelligence-based attacks is on the rise. Attackers are now using AI to launch smart attacks to probe cyber defences for any weakness or vulnerability. To combat AI-based attacks, organizations must employ AI-based defences, which are costly and still in their infancy.

Download the CLX Forum book, Canadian Cybersecurity 2018: An Anthology of CIO/CISO Enterprise-Level Perspectives: http://www.clxforum.org/

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