- The Washington Times - Friday, August 31, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The headline from RiskandInsurance.com says it all: “Machine Learning Could Make Hackers Practically Unstoppable: Are You Ready?”

Good question. Serious question.

And one which, no doubt, has registered as barely a blip on the collective minds of busy, technologically driven, chip-card-paying, online shopping, Amazon data-storing Americans.

But the shadowy side of artificial intelligence’s rapidly developing world is that while the good guys are busy producing computerized systems that help the world at-large, the bad guys are just as busy as bees trying to discover ways to exploit and profit. With great success, in some cases.

Let’s just say the nefarious types of the A.I. world aren’t going to make an episode of “World Dumbest Criminals” any time soon. These are smart people using their smarts to steal. Some of ‘em, no doubt, could’ve worked for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Google, but chose instead to go dark.

The faster the world becomes chippified — relying on data and technology, not hard currency, for example — the fatter their wallets, the richer their pockets.

“AI can detect underlying patterns in your shopping behavior from the products you buy and the way in which you buy them,” reported the Conversation.”

That means, in one scenario, hackers could know what’s in your home before sending in the thieves.

On a wider scale, though, there’s this: bypasses of facial recognition programs; faked impersonation of voice-commanded systems; mischief-making in autonomously driven vehicle navigations; and outright theft of personal data from banking, retail and online sources.

That last, of course, has been ongoing for some time.

McAfee found in one recent study that since 2014, the global cost of cyber crime exploded from $445 billion to $600 billion — coincidentally at the same time artificial intelligence began making massive inroads in civilian and government sectors. Phishing, meanwhile, has cost midsize companies an average $1.6 million per attack — costs that are then transferred to the consumer to ultimately pay.

“Criminals can now operate at unprecedented scale and efficiency and are using technology to their advantage to cause economic harm,” said Joshua Motta, the CEO of Coalition, a company that offers cyber insurance coverage, RiskandInsurance.com reported.

So how to protect?

One way: Hope the good guys stay ahead of the bad guys in terms of technological savvy. But that’s discomforting. It’s certainly not fool-proof.

So that leaves the old standbys, which go like this: Pay in cash, rather than by card. Stay off social media sites and refuse to put out personal data, including birthdate, address and telephone number, for all the world to see — and steal. Don’t use smartphones, carry cellphones, or online banking tools. Quit trading convenience for privacy — heck, just go build a home in the woods and boil the bath water over an open fire.

In other words: This is the not-so-hidden secret of today’s rapidly moving technology and artificially intelligent-infused world. Expectations of privacy, expectations of security in one’s possessions and person have been tempered to hopes and prayers.

Perhaps the best personal defense against hacks and data thefts in these oh-so-perilous technological times is to keep safety over convenience where possible and feasible — and pray like the dickens on the rest.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.


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