In recent months there has been more news of Chinese firms being involved in electronic and digital cyber-warfare. This includes TikTok being reportedly used to gather data of US citizens on behalf of the Chinese government, and more recently Chinese phones with malware built in being sold in Africa.

Whilst the manufacturer Transsion claimed that it was unaware of the software being installed, the extent to which China’s New Silk Road strategy is linked into similar African expansion means that these occurrences may happen often.

Cybersecurity has come to the fore in recent years across Western nations, as they have faced hacks such as one on the UK’s NHS system and the Democratic Party’s systems in the lead up to the 2016 Presidential Election.

The two incidents were suspected to have taken place on the orders of a foreign body, which ultimately means that the online space can now be considered to be a battlefield between rival states that don’t want to engage in more obvious forms of combat.

Countries have started responding to these types of attack

In response, the UK’s formation of the National Cyber Security Centre took place back in 2016, but the reach and scale of these attacks are still worrying. With advances in artificial intelligence and programming, these attacks could become significantly more refined, leading to the damage caused spiralling out of the target state’s control.

As technology advances and the world becomes more interconnected, there are more and more routes for attacks to take place and an impact on one part of a network can spread and affect more systems than ever before.

Digital warfare

Put simply, although it would be excessive to view every Chinese or Russian venture as dangerous, the impacts of a potential digital war are significant. Donald Trump’s specific fear of Chinese apps is understandable thanks to the sheer detail of data collected about US citizens, and although a ban may seem excessive, the alternative is a complete unknown.

We currently sit in the difficult middle ground, in which we are reliant on foreign technology, but are unsure of whether or not our rivals will use it against us. The Western world is stuck in limbo, relying on our opponents, and made to fear their potential all at once.

How can artificial intelligence combat against foreign cyber-warfare?

Artificial intelligence has transformed many sectors, cybersecurity included. As the number of cyberattacks on organisations, governments and individuals increases, cybersecurity experts are having to adopt new technology to prevent attacks. But what are the benefits and limitations of using AI in cybersecurity?


Artificial intelligence is a great ally for cybersecurity and cyberattacks, as it can analyse and learn from data with greater precision and efficiency, through intelligent algorithms. As such, it is capable of increasing the detection, range and precision of cyberattacks.

Machine learning systems can establish security protocols based on the type of intrusion into the company’s systems. When facing unknown and potentially dangerous behaviours, it can identify vulnerabilities in the company’s technological ecosystem.

Another advantage of AI systems is that they collaborate by categorising attacks according to the level of threat. Therefore, they are able to assign the priority with which each incident should be given attention respectively.

An example of AI technology is biometric logins, which scan fingerprints, palm prints and retinas. As passwords can be extremely vulnerable to cyber-attacks, biometric logins are an extremely secure way of securing end device protection.


Along with the many benefits of using artificial intelligence in cybersecurity, there are also some setbacks. In order to build and maintain an AI system, companies would require an immense amount of resources. They would also need to obtain many different data sets of malware codes, which can be a very lengthy process.

Some hackers also use AI themselves to test malware, meaning they could still be ahead of the game. What’s more, AI-proof malware can learn from existing AI tools and develop more advanced attacks. This can cause real issues for cybersecurity experts.


It seems therefore that AI is a long way from being the only cybersecurity solution. But combining AI with traditional cybersecurity techniques may be the way forward. Companies should take important steps such as installing firewalls and other malware scanners, as well as constantly reviewing the latest cybersecurity threats and developing their security protocol accordingly.

Combining these techniques with the help of AI could provide the most effective protection against future cyber-warfare attacks.

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Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay