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Threats from malicious cyber activity are likely to increase as nation-states, financially motivated criminals, and novices increasingly incorporate artificial intelligence into their routines, the UK’s top intelligence agency said.

The assessment, from the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters, predicted ransomware will be the biggest threat to get a boost from AI over the next two years. AI will lower barriers to entry, a change that will bring a surge of new entrants into the criminal enterprise. More experienced threat actors—such as nation-states, the commercial firms that serve them, and financially motivated crime groups—will likely also benefit, as AI allows them to identify vulnerabilities and bypass security defenses more efficiently.

“The emergent use of AI in cyber attacks is evolutionary not revolutionary, meaning that it enhances existing threats like ransomware but does not transform the risk landscape in the near term,” Lindly Cameron, CEO of the GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre, said. Cameron and other UK intelligence officials said that their country must ramp up defenses to counter the growing threat.

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