Kaspersky Labs this week scared the living Hell out of a lot of us with the disclosure that the Equation Group has developed one of the nastiest malware attacks ever discovered. And, if that weren\u2019t enough, the security software maker identified another group called Carbanak, which has drained mostly Russian Banks of around $1 billion.\u00a0\u00a0\nI ended the week talking about the predictions of Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Steven Hawking that future artificial intelligence machines represent the biggest threat to our existence -- kind of putting the whole hacking thing in better perspective. Yes, theft is bad. Death is generally considered worse.\nWhat if one problem could be the cure for the other?\nBreaking Down the Exposure\nIn the Equation Group attack report, the conclusion seemed to be that while the group's old tools are well beyond what anyone else has, their new tools are undetectable, making them far worse.\nIn the Carbanak case, the conclusion was that the \u201ccircle the wagons\u201d approach that banks typically use is exactly what makes huge thefts possible because there is no public notice of the attack, which prevents un-attacked banks from putting up a defense that could stop it from happening to them. Had banks shared information early on, the total loss would have been much smaller and maybe the criminal organization would have been caught.\u00a0\u00a0\n[Related: Has Equation Group Hacked Your Hard Drives? You Won\u2019t Be Able to Tell ]\nThe only way to find and eliminate the new set of undetectable tools that the Equation Group is using is likely though massive computer behavioral analysis. Forensically looking at every machine for a set of unusual behaviors so that through the resulting profile, the malware could be identified, the infected machine quarantined, and then the malwareremoved using a linked management platform or the system reimaged and then tested to see if either result actually eliminated the software.\nGiven how invasive some of the tools are (actually rewriting the control software on hard drives), it might be more cost effective to destroy the infected machine. This is the kind of militarized software that can come only from governments, and some believe that it likely came from the US. However, now that the destructive software is known, it can be found, reverse-engineered and given new targets in the U.S.\u00a0\u00a0 Lucky us.\n[ Related: Equation Super Cyberspies Target Macs With Malware, Too ]\nFor the Carbanak kind of exposure, no bank is going to want to broadcast that it has been successfully hacked, making timely notification problematic. What is needed is some kind of intermediary that captures the nature of the attack and can come up with a defense that then communicates both in real-time to other companies without identifying the source of the information.\nApplying Artificial Intelligence\nBoth problems would seem to have be obvious choices for a new kind of security solution -- one with AI at its heart. In the first case, AI can adapt itself based on what it sees to both better identify and more quickly eliminate a threat like that represented by the Equation Group. It could be missioned to do so anonymously, but still be certified as a valid source, report any attack to a pool of AIs who would then be prepared to stop any similar attack on their companies. Because this is AI and not a person, the scanning can be far more comprehensive, the response far faster, and the result itself far more secure.\nHowever, the level of development cost to create such AI likely falls more into the range of national defense funding than it does any security firm. That in and of itself might be poetic given that the most advanced threats appear to be coming from governments. Perhaps these governments should also fund the technology that mitigates them. It would certainly be embarrassing should a broad U.S. market collapse be connected to a something like the Equation Group and through it back to the U.S. government.\u00a0 That tool set is very capable of having this outcome.\nWrapping Up: AI Cyber War\nGiven the government funding of malware, that the technology the Equation Group was using is partially intelligent and that it can evolve to a more advanced offering if it finds something interesting on the computer it has infected, the idea of AI-powered malware package is likely in development.\u00a0 That could very well evolve into just what Gates, Hawking, and Musk are worried about: hostile AI with the power to destroy connected and disconnected computers or turn them against us.\u00a0\u00a0\nRight now, we are clearly in a cyber-arms race, and what is most frightening is that far more development is going into offensive than defensive tools. If that doesn\u2019t change, we are likely going to have some future problems that make what we\u2019ve seen so far seem like a walk in the park. Put a final way: While I\u2019m not quite ready to replace Hawkins, Gates, and Musk\u2019s view with Erick Horvitz\u2019s far friendlier outcome, I do think if we don\u2019t start working hard to ensure Horvitz\u2019s vision, then the world we don\u2019t want becomes unavoidable. Something to noodle on this weekend.