Reflecting on Defence and Security Strategies in the AI Era: A New Perspective for Modern Nations

In the midst of rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), it is crucial for countries around the world to reassess and update their defence and security strategies.

In the midst of rapid advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), it is crucial for countries around the world to reassess and update their defence and security strategies. The development of AI technology brings not only progress but also fundamentally changes the landscape of global security threats. This becomes important as AI introduces new types of threats that are more complex and difficult to detect, often transcending traditional national security boundaries. These threats can come from various sources, ranging from state actors to isolated individuals with access to sophisticated tools.

Furthermore, AI allows perpetrators to carry out more advanced and coordinated cyber-attacks, increasing the risk to critical infrastructure and citizens’ personal data. This demands a more dynamic and adaptive approach in responding to potential risks, including policy renewal, technological capacity enhancement, and closer international cooperation. Ignoring these aspects can leave vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malicious actors, thus placing national security and global stability at serious risk. This article discusses three key aspects that every country should consider when facing security challenges in the AI era.

Threats from Individual Actors to Large Groups with Various Motives

In the current context of cybersecurity, the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) technology has brought significant changes to the source and nature of threats. Traditionally, security threats often came from nations or organized groups. However, with the advent of AI, even individuals or small groups can now have a significant impact. AI enables the execution of more sophisticated cyber-attacks, which can be carried out by a variety of actors, from solitary hackers to terrorist organizations. This diversity is not only evident in the perpetrators but also in their motives, ranging from cybercrime for personal gain to attacks with ideological purposes.

As a concrete example, a case in China reviewed in an article by South China Morning Post demonstrates how AI can be used in cybercrime. In this case, four individuals successfully developed a ransomware attack with the help of ChatGPT, targeting a company in Hangzhou and demanding a ransom in cryptocurrency. This case illustrates how AI, including tools like ChatGPT, can be exploited by cybercriminals to enhance the sophistication of their attacks.

On the other hand, in India, there was a data breach that affected the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), where the personal data of 815 million residents was sold on the dark market. This data includes sensitive information such as names, ages, genders, addresses, passport numbers, and government IDs (Aadhaar). This incident, reported by WeLiveSecurity, highlights the high risk of identity theft attacks and how large-scale data leaks can occur in the AI era.

These two cases, from China and India, show how AI is not only a tool for progress but also a weapon that can be used in cyber-attacks. This reinforces the importance of developing more adaptive and holistic security strategies to face various forms of cyber security threats in the AI era.

Information Asymmetry: Challenges and Opportunities

The information asymmetry generated by AI becomes a major challenge in the digital era. AI enables the collection and analysis of large-scale data, often without the knowledge or consent of the affected parties. This situation results in a risky information imbalance.

This imbalance is dangerous because it can give unfair advantages to negative actors, such as rival nations or terrorist groups, even individuals. They can use the collected data to understand security weaknesses, plan attacks, or manipulate public opinion. On the other hand, this imbalance in access and control of information can disrupt the global balance of power, allowing nations or groups with more resources to dominate others.

The domestic impact of information asymmetry is also significant. The use of personal data without transparency can raise concerns about privacy and state surveillance, affecting public trust in the government and institutions. This requires wise actions in managing data and AI technology to maintain a balance between security and privacy.

On the other hand, this information asymmetry also provides an opportunity for nations to strengthen their intelligence and security by utilizing data to prevent and respond to threats more effectively.

To take advantage of the information asymmetry caused by AI in strengthening national intelligence and security, the first important step is the development of large-scale data analysis capabilities. This allows security agencies to process and analyze information efficiently, making it easier to accurately identify threats.

Next, investment in AI technology for automatic threat detection is essential. Sophisticated AI systems can help identify unusual patterns in data, which may indicate a security threat. In addition, strengthening cybersecurity systems and protecting critical infrastructure and sensitive data from cyber-attacks should be a top priority.

Finally, international cooperation in the exchange of intelligence and best security practices must be enhanced. This cooperation is important to increase awareness and preparedness for cross-border threats. Additionally, training human resources in the field of cybersecurity and AI and developing a strong legal and ethical framework for regulating the use of AI are important steps to ensure that data collection and analysis efforts do not violate privacy rights and ethical standards.

Objectives of Threats in the AI Era: Intelligence Gathering, Information Manipulation, and Operational Disruption

In the AI era, cybersecurity is not just about data theft but also extends to information manipulation and the disruption of critical infrastructure operations. The use of AI allows perpetrators to analyze vast amounts of data and carry out more sophisticated and targeted attacks.

For instance, the attack on the UK Electoral Commission in 2023 demonstrates how cyber actors can use AI to steal crucial information. In this case, personal data of about 40 million voters was stolen through a complex cyberattack, showcasing the potential of AI to access and manipulate data on a large scale. This incident had serious implications for data security and the integrity of the democratic process.

Another example is the attack on healthcare services in Ireland, where their IT systems were hit by ransomware, disrupting healthcare operations including medical appointments and emergency procedures. This attack involved not just data theft but also posed serious risks to public health and safety, illustrating how AI can be used to disrupt vital infrastructure.

In this continuously evolving AI era, countries worldwide must redefine their perception of national defence and security strategies. Facing the challenges of information asymmetry, and the diversity of actors and their motivations, it’s crucial to adapt security strategies to be more dynamic and flexible. This new approach should include enhanced data analysis and protection capabilities, closer international cooperation, and the development of policies that ensure a balance between security, privacy, and ethics. Effectively responding to security challenges in the AI era is not just about adopting new technology, but also about understanding and anticipating various emerging threats, as well as adapting existing legal and ethical frameworks to maintain national security amidst rapid global changes.

Tuhu Nugraha
Tuhu Nugraha
Digital Business & Metaverse Expert Principal of Indonesia Applied Economy & Regulatory Network (IADERN)