Artificial Intelligence, in all of its forms, is here to stay. Any process a machine takes over can be considered AI. In this case, we’ll talk largely about the personal assistant functions which users activate using voice commands. Things like Siri and Alexa offer their users the chance to have a personal assistant perform the tedious jobs of looking up information, dialing numbers, and even pulling up data.

If you’ve been on social media at all in the last few years, you’ve seen the memes and jokes about these devices. Most show lovely families using their AI with a quote that says something like, “Wiretap, give me a good recipe for biscuits.”

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean someone’s not really out to get you. These jokes are only amusing because they’re based on a possible truth.

The convenience is often too much to pass up. Most consumers aren’t exceptionally concerned about being wiretapped. The reality is that it is possible. In fact, it’s been proven that there’s a way to hack an Echo.

What About Artificial Intelligence in the Office?

There is no doubt that this form of AI will be gaining traction in the work place. Amazon has already announced their Alexa for Business.

Consider the possibilities that this type of AI represents in streamlining efficiency in the work environment. You can look up intricate sales data, revenue cycle management reports, and call a client without stopping your current work. All of these tasks can be accomplished automatically by simply asking for them. This frees you up to continue working, without pausing to complete things your AI can do for you.

Another positive attribute of this type of advanced artificial intelligence? Most employees are comfortable using this technology. People are already using similar programs in their personal life.

But in your personal life, the convenience outweighs the risks. Does the same hold true for business?

Cybersecurity Risks for Businesses – Does AI Compute?

There’s a distinct advantage to applications that allow employees to complete tasks more efficiently. But for businesses, there may be a heightened risk in using this type of technology.

This is another possible entry point for hackers, but the ramifications here are intense. Gaining entry to a business’ AI personal assistant would mean that hackers could potentially record every spoken command in the office, and gain access to all of the accounts linked to that device. That could represent a large data breach and it might not be easily detectable. Another possible hacking scenario uses high frequency sounds to command the device to complete tasks the hacker orders – this might include sending files to an outside location or visiting a site that downloads Malware directly onto devices in the office.

Where individual users might not have a great deal to fear in this type of hack, a business can’t overlook the possible risk. The data involved in a business breach might open you up to litigation and compromise the integrity and reputation of the corporation to a startling degree.

More than 40% of cyber attacks are aimed at small businesses. Larger corporations have also fallen prey to different forms of hacking and ransomware attacks are up – costing large corporations, healthcare organizations, and even individual people millions of dollars. Without the proper data recovery and cybersecurity in place, many entities wind up paying the ransom – even in the case of some police departments!

This is a large threat for any size business – a majority (60%) of those attacked wind up out of business in less than a year.

Ransomware and the cyber attacks previously leveled at businesses didn’t infiltrate this form of AI. But this form of AI is only now becoming available. It’s a logical assumption that hackers will be targeting weaknesses in these devices in the future.

Protocols for Securing Your Business Interests

Artificial intelligence in the form of voice commanded personal assistants will enter the workforce. In fact, they’re already in the workforce through employees. Hackers can currently target high ranking employees through their own personal assistant devices.

If you thought avoiding the technology could keep you safe from the possible risks, that would be like hiding your head in the sand. It won’t work.

On the plus side, the sky is falling paranoia isn’t completely warranted, either. You already use devices with voice applications, such as your phone or a computer with video chatting capabilities. So, you don’t need to get rid of any device that might be compromised. Instead, a good practice is to be aware of the risks.

The best formula for cybersecurity is always in updating your knowledge and planning for every possibility.

We can only guess, at this point, what forms new cyber attacks might take with regard to this technology. But here are some good practices to follow to make certain your business and interests are as secure as possible:

  • Offer Employee Training. A large portion of data breaches occur because the hacker gained access through an employee. This often happens because employees don’t use password protection, use poorly crafted passwords, or click on infected links. This is often unintentional and a regular update of safety protocols and cyber-safety can improve their performance in this area.
  • Evaluate and Improve On Site Security. Hackers aren’t usually rogue geniuses who can use code alone to break into your system. They often infiltrate through the real world, such as access to employee computers which aren’t password protected.
  • Develop a Plan for Each Scenario. Your business should work with your IT team to develop a plan, similar to a fire drill, to make sure that any attack can be handled with as little damage as possible.

AI is the wave of the future and the applications offer a great deal in terms of improving productivity. As with all new technological advances, your business should make a proactive effort to assess the security issues.