Artificial intelligence could be used to hack connected cars, drones warn security experts

Cyber criminals could exploit emerging technologies including artificial intelligence and machine learning to help conduct attacks against autonomous cars, drones and Internet of Things-connected vehicles, according to a report from the United Nations, Europol and cybersecurity company Trend Micro.

While AI and machine learning can bring “enormous benefits” to society, the same technologies can also bring a range of threats that can enhance current forms of crime or even lead to the evolution of new malicious activity.

“As AI applications start to make a major real-world impact, it’s becoming clear that this will be a fundamental technology for our future,” said Irakli Beridze, head of the Centre for AI and Robotics at the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute. “However, just as the benefits to society of AI are very real, so is the threat of malicious use,” he added.

SEE: Cybersecurity: Let’s get tactical (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)

In addition to super-powering phishing, malware and ransomware attacks, the paper warns that by abusing machine learning, cyber criminals could conduct attacks that could have an impact on the physical world.

For example, machine learning is being implemented in autonomous vehicles to allow them to recognise the environment around them and obstacles that must be avoided – such as pedestrians.

However, these algorithms are still evolving and it’s possible that attackers could exploit them for malicious purposes, to aid crime or just to create chaos. For example, AI systems that manage autonomous vehicles and regular vehicle traffic could be manipulated by attackers if they gain access to the networks that control them.

By causing traffic delays – perhaps even with the aid of using stolen credit card details to swamp a chosen area with hire cars – cyber attackers could provide other criminals with extra time needed to carry out a robbery or other crime, while also getting away from the scene.

The report notes that as the number of automated vehicles on the roads increases, the potential…