Hackers were very nearly successful when a phishing email was opened by a senior manager of a Singaporean financial services company, infecting his computer with a malware that could have destroyed its reputation and resulted in losses of millions of dollars.

The email the senior manager opened looked perfectly legitimate, and included detailed he was familiar with, including people, appointments, and travel plans.

Fortunately, an artificial intelligence (AI) self-learning software prevented the cyber attack from prospering.

Darktrace, a cybersecurity company, developed the AI used to stop the attack. The software contains a self-learning algorithm created by mathematicians. It registers the typical patterns of usage of an organization and when it detects it, springs into action and counters the unusual activity, reported Business Insider.

According to Darktrace, the hackers are based in South Korea and had studied and targeted the finance company’s senior manager with the phishing email. As soon as he clicked on the mail, the hackers were able to access the not only his computer but also those of the company.

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Finding old security software, the hackers got past it and took administrative control remotely, and had it not been for the AI software, the hackers would have had access to perform bank transactions, confidential company details, and even send malicious mail to the company’s clients.

But the AI software was able to find unusual traffic to the hackers in South Korea, and so the activity was halted before any serious harm could be accomplished.

Darktrace has also been able to prevent data breaches in other fintech companies through stopping cyber-attacks that traditional security measures could not stop. And since AI robots can move at lightning speed, companies’ security officers have had the opportunity to catch up with the scams, and not have the companies be taken advantage of.

Darktrace said, “As we move into an era of machine-on-machine battles, autonomous response will be vital in averting a headline-grabbing crisis.”

It only takes seconds for a company to sustain major damage, or ‘sleeper’ attacks could lie dormant for a while and then activated later on. In this day and age, traditional cybersecurity approaches can no longer protect companies as well as AI software can.

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