Microsoft announced last week that it will launch a new AI platform for Windows 10 that will allow developers to introduce pre-trained machine learning models in their apps, thereby offering more features to Windows users.
Despite opening up Windows 10 to the world of AI, Microsoft failed to inform users about serious security implications that AI may introduce in the long run.
In a blog post last week, Microsoft waxed lyrical about the possibilities that a new AI platform for Windows 10 could introduce in the future. It said that the next big update to Windows 10 would include an AI platform which will enable developers to ‘use pre-trained machine learning models in their Apps on Windows devices’.
How will the AI platform help Windows 10 users?
“AI capabilities in Office 365 help subscribers with productivity at work, intelligent features in the Photos app for Windows 10 make it easier for people to create videos and search through massive photo collections, and Windows Hello uses AI to recognize your face and get you quickly logged in to your Windows devices.
“We also use AI to answer your questions when using Bing Search and Cortana, to enable advertisers build deeper connections with customers, and to help security professionals safeguard businesses against modern threats,” said Microsoft.
The company added that the AI platform will help users perform AI evaluation tasks using the local processing capabilities of the PC, such as performing intensive workloads like game engines, or background tasks such as indexing for search.
Affordable end-to-end AI solutions will also eliminate costs associated with bandwidth due to ingestion of large data sets, such as camera footage or sensor telemetry.
“By using instruction set optimizations on modern CPUs, hardware acceleration on GPUs that support DirectX 12, and a driver model for purpose-built AI processors in the future, we deliver performance and efficiency on the broadest range of form factors. With the update, developers can use the AI platform across the Windows device family, including IoT edge devices, HoloLens, 2-in-1s and desktop PCs, workstations, servers and in data centers,” it added.
Security risks that Microsoft didn’t talk about
Even though the proposed association of Windows 10 with AI tools is a step in the right direction, considering how quickly enterprises and individuals are embracing cloud technologies and machine learning concepts, Microsoft needs to warn end user about serious security risks that AI could introduce in the long run.
“Microsoft is shouting from the hilltops that its latest version of Windows 10 will democratise AI, allowing people to use AI and Machine Learning to finish workflows and do tasks on their desktops. However, there are serious security implications that many consumers may not be aware of,” said Etienne Greeff, CTO and co-founder at SecureData.
“These AI and ML features would be a fantastic tool for an attacker that has crafted an exploit that relies on machine learning to succeed. Unfortunately, this is yet another example of features finding their way onto desktops where they can be used for good and bad.
“An example would be to learn the behaviour of a user, such as which files they access on a regular basis together with the topics referenced in the files. For example, if an attacker is after financial or personal data they can use this type of modelling to highlight files of interest. This information can then be used to pilfer those files given they are the most popular/valuable,” he added.
Greeff added that by using AI tools, hackers could learn how people construct their e-mails and text documents, and also learn how to impersonate their speech to cause all kinds of damage, and Microsoft would do well to warn consumers who want to take advantage of these new features of the potential risks, prioritising this over lauding and promoting the latest tech offering to come off their production line.