North Korea and other “nation-state criminal actors” are attempting to use artificial intelligence (AI) to write “malicious software,” a U.S. security official said Wednesday, in what appears to be the first time the U.S. government has publicly confirmed the use of AI in cyber warfare.
According to deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technologies on the National Security Council Anne Neuberger, the U.S. government has set combatting North Korean AI hacking as a “priority,” the Korea Times reports.
“We have observed some North Korean and other nation-state criminal actors try to use AI models to help accelerate writing malicious software and finding systems to exploit,” Neuberger said to reporters during a briefing on international cooperation in order to counter cyber threats.
To fight back against malicious hacking and disinformation spread by enemy states, the U.S. is focusing on putting forth “defensive hackers” using AI, she said. According to the national security advisor, the goal is to make sure American AI “stays one step ahead” of combatant AI “on the offense.”
“There’s a lot of work to be done together,” she said of collaboration with allied nation’s cybersecurity teams.
According to Neuberger, North Korean hacking of cryptocurrency around the globe, including in the Singaporean, Vietnamese, and Hong Kongese markets is a “major source of revenue” for Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un’s regime to fund his missile program.
“As a result, addressing North Korean hacking has been a priority of the U.S. We formed a trilateral with Japan and South Korea to bring our governments together to tackle that together.”
Included in the efforts to combat North Korea’s cybercrimes are placing sanctions on cryptocurrency exchanges used by the regime.
South Korea’s state intelligence agency has found that North Korea has stolen approximately $700 million worth of cryptocurrency last year, which the Korea Times observed is “equivalent to the money that would enable the country to fire 30 intercontinental ballistic missiles.”