US Intel Community warns of weaponized AI, anonymous cyberattacks, ransomware

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The release of the 2024 Annual Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community coincided with a hearing by the Select Committee on Intelligence of the US Senate; which heard testimony by the Directors of National Intelligence, US State Department, CIA, FBI, NSA and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

“The emergence of inexpensive and anonymizing online infrastructure combined with the growing profitability of ransomware has led to the proliferation, decentralization, and specialization of cyber criminal activity,” said the report. “This interconnected system has improved the efficiency and sophistication of ransomware attacks while also lowering the technical bar for entry for new actors.”

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Trans-national criminal organizations “are defrauding individuals, businesses, and government programs, while laundering billions of dollars of illicit proceeds through U.S. financial institutions. Their fraud schemes and tactics vary widely. Some use shell and front companies to obfuscate their illicit activities and some TCOs rely on professional money launderers or financial experts and other tactics to launder illicit proceeds.”

The report also identifies threats beyond the digital domain, including war, terrorism, military capabilities, and conflicts between countries.  Artificial intelligence will also play a role in these threats.

Further reading

Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community. Report (PDF). Dated Febrary 5, 2024. Released March 11, 2024. US Senate Intelligence Committee

Hearing: Worldwide Threats. Video. March 11, 2024. US Senate Committee Hearing Channels. Select Committee on Intelligence. United States Senate

Why it matters

“(We’re in) one of those pivot (sic) moments in history where what life will be like for generations (is) being determined by what’s happening now and in the near future, while events are changing perhaps faster than at any other time in human history,” said Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

While the report doesn’t specificially discuss piracy or the media and entertainment sector, the threats that the report identifies certainly apply to them.

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