With the recent major ransomware attacks in the news, it's apparent that companies need to implement better defences, most likely in the form of artificial intelligence.
While old techniques for identifying malware involve matching the code of malicious viruses against a database of known malware, newer techniques characterise the malware by its behaviour. More specifically, looking for combinations of behaviours and observable characteristics usually associated with malicious intent - for example, by quarantining a program disguised with a PDF icon to hide its true nature.
There are still issues with this approach, however, and that's when we turn to machine learning, which is a form of artificial intelligence. A security system analyses samples of good and bad software and determines what combination of factors is likely to point to malware.
Essentially, society is currently using anti-virus software that still relies on malware databases that aren't necessarily kept up to date. The future of anti-virus relies heavily upon discarding these databases and instead opting for machine learning.
Twice in the space of six weeks, the world has suffered major attacks of ransomware—malicious software that locks up photos and other files stored on your computer, then demands money to release them. It's clear that the world needs better defenses, and fortunately those are starting to emerge, if slowly and in patchwork fashion. When they arrive, we may have artificial intelligence to thank. Ransomware isn't necessary trickier or more dangerous than other malware that sneaks onto your computer, but it can be much more aggravating, and at times devastating. Most such infections don't get in your face about taking your digital stuff away from you the way ransomware does, nor do they shake you down for hundreds of dollars or more.