We need human ingenuity and AI-powered security

1 July 2020 Editor's Choice

Bugcrowd, a crowdsourced security company, released its 2020 ‘Inside the Mind of a Hacker’ report, the most comprehensive study to date on the global hacking community. Among the report’s key findings, human ingenuity supported by actionable intelligence of the Bugcrowd platform were found to be critical ingredients to maintaining a resilient infrastructure. In fact, 78% of hackers indicated AI-powered cybersecurity solutions alone aren’t enough to outmanoeuvre cyberattacks over the next decade.

Nearly nine out of ten hackers, 87%, say that scanners cannot find as many critical or unknown assets as humans. While 2019 was a record year for data breaches, the report found that hackers working on the Bugcrowd platform prevented $8,9 billion of cybercrime in 2019 and earned 38% more than they did in the previous period. In the next five years, hackers on the Bugcrowd platform are projected to prevent more than $55 billion in cybercrime for organisations worldwide.

“Globally-distributed good-faith hackers are increasing in number and diversifying. Bugcrowd gives organisations the power to proactively leverage human ingenuity – the enabler of malicious cyberattacks – at scale to prevent them,” said Casey Ellis, founder, chairman, and chief technical officer of Bugcrowd. “While AI has a role to play in helping to reduce cyber risk, companies need to integrate crowdsourced security throughout their security lifecycle if they hope to outsmart and outmanoeuvre cybercriminals.”

“Hackers will always be one step ahead of AI when it comes to cybersecurity because humans are not confined by the logical limitations of machine intelligence,” said Jasmin Landry, top-ranked Bugcrowd hacker. “For example, hackers can adapt four to five low-impact bugs to exploit a single high-impact attack vector that AI would likely miss without the creative flexibility of human decision-making. Experience allows hackers to recognise vulnerable misconfigurations that represent a true risk to organisations without all of the false positives that typically come with AI-powered solutions.”

The ‘Inside the Mind of a Hacker’ report analyses 3493 survey responses from working hackers, plus hacking activity on the Bugcrowd platform between 1 May 2019 and 30 April 2020. In addition, the report incorporates data from 1549 programs and 7,7 million platform interactions to provide a striking and in-depth view of emerging trends among bug bounty, penetration testing, attack surface management, and vulnerability disclosure programmes.

Career hacking in emerging countries skyrockets

The research found that hackers live on six continents and reside in more than 100 countries worldwide. Most notably, the report identified an 83% growth in respondents living in India and nearly three out of four hackers (73%) speak two or more languages.

“Diversity is the critical, yet often overlooked, factor in any successful security strategy. Bugcrowd gives us the ability to rapidly analyse a situation using global perspectives from hackers – who already understand how our applications work – that collectively augment their unique backgrounds and sociocultural influences to keep us ahead of cybercriminals,” said Adrian Ludwig, chief information security officer at Atlassian. “Having started my career as a hacker, I understand that cybersecurity is inherently a human problem. ‘The power of the crowd’ in crowdsourced cybersecurity is rooted in being able to look at the same thing as everyone else and see something else.”

COVID-19 increasing demand for career hackers

The FBI reported a 400% rise in cybercrime after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and organisations are investing more in bug bounty programmes as a result. More than half of hackers (61%) have noticed an increase in available bug bounty programmes to participate in due to widespread remote working conditions related to the COVID-19.

“We are in unprecedented territory and COVID-19 has forced many businesses to accelerate digital transformation efforts,” said Ashish Gupta, CEO and president of Bugcrowd. “The rush to digitise businesses can create serious lapses in security and organisations are turning to bug bounty programmes to proactively safeguard new products and applications against vulnerabilities.”

Like the larger security industry, career hackers also noted concerns about COVID-related fraud. Nearly half of hackers (48%) believe the healthcare industry is the most vulnerable to cybercrime during the unfolding crisis, followed by education and community support (17%) and government and military (16%).

Additionally, as the government faces the potential impact of COVID-19 on the upcoming 2020 US Presidential election, 72% of hackers independently reported that they do not trust alternative polling methods, like electronic polling or mail-in ballots.

For more information on Bugcrowd or to download the full report, please visit www.bugcrowd.com/inside-the-mind-of-a-hacker

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