AI, Malware, Nanotech, and Quantum Computing: A Future Threat to Our Security?
Tue, 15 Oct 2019 || By Janitra Haryanto

Departing from the security standpoint, many have started talking about the implementation and regulation of future technology as the means of attack, such as AI, as a tool to enhance surveillance technology[1], nanotechnology to strengthen state arsenals[2] Moreover, malware to infect vital infrastructures[3]. Regarding this matter, cybersecurity scholars have brought relevant topics to debate: how to deter interstate cyberattack, the appropriate 'equality principle,' and so on.[4] Indeed, only some such forms of technology have proven to spark disastrous events in human life, such as large-scale conflict, famine, and so on. However, undermining the possible threat that comes from such technologies may cause a future challenge in tackling the repercussions. Therefore, reviewing the possible threat carried out by this future technology will present a start to understanding new measures paramount to the perseverance of our security.

This article will present a review of how AI, nanotechnology, malware, and quantum computing may present danger to the survival of a society. The four sets of future technology are selected due to their ferocious impact on the security of individuals in times to come. It is argued that such forms of technology will threaten many security aspects on a wide-scale, from individual privacy and physical safety to the survivability of a country.


The Possible Threat Caused by Future Technology

The first and probably most talked-about technology in the digital era is artificial intelligence, often known as AI. In international, specifically security study, AI is often referred to as the ability of a computer to replicate the human-intelligence powered behavior.[5] Just as how it is feared to disrupt several professions, it also possessed several risks in the towards the perseverance of humankind. A collective study argued that AI has the potential to advance spear phishing, deepfake, automated hacking, subversion of a cyber-physical system.[6] While possessing the possible threat, AI is still expected to be at the forefront of US military technology due to its ability to carry efficacy.

The potential to be an enabler for a more efficient military weapon also lies in nanotechnology. It is usually described as a technology that manipulates and manufacturers chemical particles at the size between 1 nanometer and 100 nanometers.[7] This technology can be incorporated into a bio-weapon and possesses a threat in several forms. Kosal argued that nanotechnology could present itself as an enabler for developing a weapon immune to the current countermeasures and being developed to disrupt human immune by suppressing, stimulating, and preventing it from operating normally.[8]

Moving to information security, the ever-increasing insecurity is perhaps mostly due to the ability of malware. The term malware usually refers to software intended to disrupt the work of a system, as well as disregarding the integrity of data.[9] The idea of malware intrusion is identical to the logic of a trojan horse. As noted by Kello, malware is a technical plane composed of electron designed to affect a computer system. 

A strike towards a mere computer system can take down the computation process. However, an attack towards a computer system relied upon the operations of vital infrastructures, such as the Estonian internet infrastructure in 2007, and the Iranian nuclear facility in 2008[10], can cause more major social instability and distrust.  Malware can also be programmed to exploit sensitive and confidential information regarding the military or industrial capability of an organization. The case of hacking towards Sony Pictures[11] might be one of the infamous cases.

Another challenge towards information comes from quantum computing. To ensure the security of the information, the exchange relies on cryptography - a method of securing data by keeping it in third-party’s disposal.[12] Quantum computing is often defined as a computation that exploits the advantage of quantum properties: superposition and entanglement. When being successfully built, a quantum computer offers the capacity to decipher data encryption, even when secured with the current standard of data security: asymmetrical cryptography.[13] This type of cryptography encrypts the data with two mathematical problems: the factorization problem and the discrete logarithm problem (DLP).[14]

These two mathematical problems take jillion of years to be solved by conventional computers. However, with multiplied computation power, a quantum computer will only take a relatively short amount of time to decrypt. When actors with malevolent intentions possess such technology, various information transmitted under the most secure protocol from top-secret information to personal chats may not be secure anymore.


There is a Need for New Approach

Many kinds of future technology have proven to carry out a threat to human security. On a broader level, governments and scholars have tried to decode the suitable solution to maintain a state of security. Gartzke and Lindsay, for instance, have proposed the concept of Cross-Domain Deterrence (CDD) to deter the attack carried out in the modern era.[15] Others have tried to govern cyberspace with international conventions, such as Convention on Cybersecurity of European Commission and Charter of UN Group of Experts.[16] However, to prevent a disastrous event from happening, smaller, individual efforts should be taken, such as taking more consideration in sharing and protecting our personal data.

Editor: Anisa Pratita Mantovani

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[1] See Johnson, J. (2019). Artificial intelligence & future warfare: implications for international security. Defense & Security Analysis [online], Vol. 35(2), p. 147-169. Available at

[2] See Carafano, J., and Gudgel, A. (2007). Nanotechnology and National Security: Small Changes, Big Impact. Backgrounder [online], no. 2071, Available at

[3] See Kello, L. (2017). Virtual Weapon and International Order. New Haven: Yale University Press.

[4] To examine the debate, see Rid, T. (2017). Cyberwar Will Not Take Place. Journal of Strategic Studies [online], Vol. 35(1), p. 5-32. Available at and Kello, L. (2014). Virtual Weapon: Dilemmas and Future Scenarios. Politique étrangère [online], Vol. 4, p. 139-150. Available at

[5] Horowitz, M. C. (2018). Artificial Intelligence, International Competition, and the Balance of Power. Texas National Security Review [online] Vol. 1(3) (May 2018), p. 40. Available at

[6] See Brundage, M., et al. (2018). The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, and Mitigation. Maliciousaireport [online] p. 23-28. Available at

[7] Carafano, J., and Gudgel. A.

[8] Kosal, M. E. (2010). The security implications of nanotechnology. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists [online] July/August 2010, p. 63. Available at

[9] Kello, (2017). p. 47.

[10] See Gates, G. (2012). How a Secret Cyberwar Program Worked. New York Times [online], Available at [Accessed at 3 Oct 2019].

[11] See Peterson, A. (2014).  The Sony Pictures hack explained. Washington Post [online] Available at

[12] Mavroeidis, V. et al. (2018). The Impact of Quantum Computing on Present Cryptography. (IJACSA) International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications [online], Vol. 9(3). p. 1. Available at: [Accessed at 1 Oct 2019].

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid, p. 2.

[15] See Gartzke, E., and Lindsay, J. R. (2019). Cross-Domain Deterrence: Strategy in the Era of Complexity. New York: Oxford University Press.

[16] Kello, 2014. p. 4.