5 Artificial Intelligence-Based Attacks That Shocked The World In 2018

Botnet attacks and poisoning of machine learning systems have become vogue in this year. With multiple companies losing out on their precious database, customers and information; there’s a new category in the cyber attack. Artificial intelligence has found a new application, it is being used as malware and botnet to attack data and devices more efficiently.

While AI botnets have helped hackers gain access to devices and perform distributed denial of service attack without being caught, poisoning of machine learning systems through AI has been a difficult task for hackers since it is tedious to first gain access to ML system and then poison its machine learning process to create interference in its working by injecting trojans. We list down major cyber attacks due to AI.


The online marketplace for labourers and clients faced a massive cybersecurity breach in April. The site was attacked by hackers, the investigation couldn’t trace. It was one of the biggest data breaches which affected 3.75 million users in April 2018. User data was compromised — and this included social security numbers and bank account details. According to reports, the site had to be shut down for a while because users couldn’t get access to their accounts. This was also one of the longest data security scams, the site was fully functional only after September and reportedly 145 million users were affected by then.  


According to the Threat intelligence report published by the company, the internet of things (IoT) botnet activity is responsible for 78% of malware detection in networks. In 2016, the rate of botnet attacks was 33%. Android devices like Nokia were responsible for 47.15% of malware infections. It was also found that malware has infected many crypto-currency systems which have thus caused issues in crypto-coin mining. The AI botnets often look for vulnerability in devices, after which they exploit the system to discover chief elements and then attack the target, the malware is detected only after the target has been attacked and data has been stolen.


The WordPress security has recently declared a massive Botnet attack on its sites. According to reports, 20,000 sites under WordPress have been infected with the cyber attack. The attack was created by a botnet, under which the malicious servers attacked through a Russian proxy provider under the name “”. This provider was attached to a network of 14,000 proxy servers which then infected 20,000 WordPress sites. The Defiant threat intelligence team investigated the matter and found the botnet attack. The brute force attack data was identified by the team and later on, it matched with “”. The attack infrastructure and the brute force attack campaign has been identified by “Defiant”. Unaffected users have been warned to implement restrictions and lockout for failed logins, to save their sites.

Marriott Scam

In November, the luxury hotel brand exposed a breach in its reservation system. The hackers gained access to the system of many of its hotel chains. This breach affected its 500 million customers. Information like names, credit card numbers, passport numbers, addresses and phone numbers were compromised due to this breach. According to reports, this breach has affected Marriott for four years. The breach was flagged after an internal security tool managed to detect an unauthorized party’s activity in September. The party had first gained access to the information, they encrypted it and then tried to remove it. It took the investigation team two months to decrypt the information. Recently, many US investigators are blaming Chinese state hackers. Reports suggest the breach was executed by hackers affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of State Security.


One of the most popular social media applications came under cyber attack twice this year. In August, hundreds of Instagram users took to Twitter and other social media to report about the attack on the site. Many of the users were logged out of their accounts, account information like name, password and phone number was changed by the hackers. According to reports, when the users reported the incident on the help page. Instagram didn’t respond to their complaints regarding their hacked accounts.

Also in November, Instagram was affected by a bug which led to a data breach. Users who updated to the platform changes and used the new platform discovered that their passwords were showing in the URL of their web browsers. The company staff discovered the bug but didn’t expose the breach. Affected users were cautioned to change their passwords and delete browser history.




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Jignasa Sinha
Jignasa pursued her bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology and is currently a trainee journalist at IIJNM. Her mind is usually preoccupied with art, music, food and travel.

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