Fuzz testing, more commonly known as “fuzzing”, is a quality assurance technique used to uncover code errors and security gaps in operating systems, networks, or software. It works by inputting massive amounts of “fuzz” or invalid, unexpected, or random data into the test subject to see if doing so will crash it.
Fuzzing has been around since the 1980s, but technology limitations at the time had made the process tedious and time-consuming. For one, security engineers back then had to manually develop and insert fuzz into systems in the form of random data as well as search for bugs without using any automation tools.
Today, fuzzing is so much more efficient, thanks to artificial intelligence (AI).
The benefits of AI fuzzing
AI fuzzing combines artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate the once laborious and expensive task of using fuzz to detect flaws in a particular technology. Google, for instance, recently announced the Atheris Python Fuzzer, which is capable of automatically finding bugs in Python code and native extensions.
Because AI-based tools can generate a large number of test cases and identify potential attack options in a short period of time, they eliminate the need for manually encoding and analyzing fuzz. This lowers the risk of human error, resulting in more accurate threat detection. This is critical since not every bug in a program is a security bug that cybercriminals can exploit.
AI fuzzing also considerably shortens the process of testing for vulnerabilities, allowing developers to quickly test systems for weaknesses. This efficiency is crucial in preventing or containing zero-day attacks, which is considered one of the top cybersecurity threats in 2021.
Another benefit of AI fuzzing is that it relieves your IT team of a gigantic task. With AI fuzzing, your tech staff no longer has to spend numerous hours on traditional fuzz testing. Instead, they will have more time to focus on other projects, such as optimizing your technology to gain a competitive advantage.
What’s more, because AI fuzzing shortens the time it takes to get a task done, you spend less on labor and operational costs, translating to more savings.
On top of these, AI fuzzing helps shift your company’s cybersecurity stance from a reactive to a proactive one. Instead of waiting for a cyberattack to hit before strengthening your defenses, your organization can leverage AI fuzzing to find and fix vulnerabilities before malicious actors can exploit them.
The downsides of AI fuzzing
AI fuzzing may bring several benefits to businesses, but it can also be dangerous in the hands of the wrong person. If a cybercriminal gets a hold of AI fuzzing data for a popular software, for instance, they can quickly identify its security weaknesses and use these to launch attacks. In worst-case scenarios, AI fuzzing itself can be the next big cybersecurity threat.
Financial gain by selling application or system vulnerabilities in the black market may also lure employees into divulging AI fuzzing information to hackers, thus increasing insider threat risks. If you’re using or plan to use AI fuzzing, then you must tighten your security protocols, specifically those related to user verification and access.
This leads us to the next point: AI fuzzing can be prohibitively expensive. While there are free open-source AI fuzzers, developing your own can cost a lot of time and money in resources such as security, computing power, and human effort. You will also need to hire specialists who know how to build customized AI fuzzers and verify their effectiveness — and the price tag on these IT experts is never cheap.
At the moment, the cybersecurity community agrees that AI fuzzing is a double-edged sword. But whether it becomes the shield that defends businesses from cybercriminals or the powerful weapon that hackers wield to succeed, one thing is certain: AI fuzzing is expected to change the security landscape for good.
Don’t let your business get left behind as the world of cybersecurity evolves rapidly. Learn more about the latest trends in cybersecurity by getting in touch with our IT experts at HERO Managed Services. Call us at (727) 291-8588 or book a FREE IT consultation.