Cyber-Attacks ‘Harming Trust in Artificial Intelligence-Driven Products’

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Press Association Mediapoint

June 30, 2017

The threat of cyber-attacks is harming consumer trust in new technology and artificial intelligence (AI), research has found.

The recent cyber-attack on the NHS and the ransomware attack that struck businesses across Europe earlier this week have joined a growing list of incidents in recent years, including the high-profile breaches of Yahoo and Sony Pictures.

A survey of 2,000 people by software quality specialist SQS found that 48% of UK consumers would not buy new AI-driven products because of the fear of them being hacked.

AI is increasingly being placed at the center of modern technology, including the virtual assistants found in most smartphones and smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home.

Concerns were also raised over autonomous and driverless cars, which are being trailed by Google in the United States as well as in government-backed schemes in the UK.

According to the survey, 59% of those asked said they feared autonomous vehicles could be vulnerable to hackers, and only 28% said they felt self-driving cars would be safer on the roads than humans.

SQS chief executive Dik Vos said more focus should be placed on technology security to help ease consumer concerns.

“Emerging technologies should be embraced as early as possible if the UK is to gain an economic and technological advantage over countries who are willing to become early adopters,” he said.

“But for this to happen, the consumer trust issues that we have uncovered need to be addressed first.

“Safety concerns and cyber vulnerabilities should be the top priority for companies developing innovative technology, rather than added as an afterthought or worse, once catastrophe has already struck.”

The survey also highlighted concerns over the safety of smart home apps, with 40% believing home break-ins could increase because of flaws in the security of connected home products.

“It is crucial that companies adopt a quality-first approach to gain the trust of the consumer,” Mr. Vos said.

“If advances such as AI, self-driving cars, home robots and connected houses are going to take off in the UK, stringent software testing and quality assurance must be carried out at every stage of product development to guarantee the safety of this technology.”

After the recent cyber-attacks, security experts have called on businesses and the public to improve their understanding of online and data security.

Tristan Liverpool from cyber security firm F5 Networks said: “Going into the new world of IoT (internet of things) and connected devices, with every element focusing on the application, the digital attack surface area will continue to grow.

“This gives the attackers more opportunities to infiltrate data. More focus needs to be put on the application and data security.

“In addition, more cyber security education should be integral in everybody’s daily lives.”

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