Cybercriminals had a pretty busy 2022, recent findings show. According to the annual report from Israeli cybersecurity company Perception Point, there was 356% growth globally in advanced phishing attacks attempted by malicious actors.

What’s scary to me is how often these attacks take advantage of the weakest link: us humans. 

For instance, the report shows an 83% year-on-year growth in attempts at business email compromise (BEC).

“In these attacks,” the report explains, “cybercriminals use fake emails to impersonate legitimate businesses and request large sums of money or confidential data from employees or business associates.”

I met Perception Point CEO Yoram Salinger a few weeks ago in Tel Aviv, so I was curious to hear his view on the report’s findings and emerging threats.

Facing AI-enabled threats

“The elephant in the room is obviously AI,” Salinger said. That’s because generative AI, in particular, “perfects the ability to deceive the defendant.” Forget about spelling mistakes and poor language: AI-enabled phishing emails, for instance, can look worryingly credible.

Knowing that some of us have started to receive AI-generated spam, I could only agree.

However, it is not all doom and gloom. “The tools the attackers have with AI are also available for the defendants,” Salinger noted.

His company is already leveraging AI to prevent threats but is gearing up for more. “We’re challenging ourselves by pen testing ourselves with AI-generated content and [confirming that] we still have the upper hand, but we’ll need to be on our toes.”

While dealing with threats on a daily basis can be scary, Salinger doesn’t think that fearmongering is a good sales technique. As we looked into recently, CISOs are already annoyed with cybersecurity pitches that tell them they are doing it wrong.

Rather than elevating fear, Perception Point prefers picking the right time to approach a CISO. It also highlights both its ability to integrate with existing solutions in the short-term and to replace them during the next renewal cycle. The latter, Salinger says, usually resonates with companies that are more than ever interested in cutting down costs.

This article first appeared in TechCrunch on May 27, 2023, written by Anna Heim.