Recent technological advancements have led to a transformation in organizations’ IT infrastructure and management landscapes. The increasing adoption of a remote work set-up, network-connected 5G and IoT devices, and third-party vendors for different services have expanded the attack surface. Black hat hackers or cybercriminals are trying to outsmart the white hat or ethical hackers. Cyber security is becoming a top priority.

As governments, military organizations, corporations, and individuals increasingly become targets of data breaches, ransomware, phishing campaigns, cyber espionage, and other cyber attacks, and there is a lot at stake. Amidst the chaos, artificial intelligence (AI) is helping organizations and departments level up their cyber security efforts.

What is Artificial Intelligence in Cyber Security?

Today, organizations leverage artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation to efficiently detect, predict, and respond to cyber threats and risks. AI can help zero in on cyber threats faster by eliminating false positives from the thousands of alerts security operation centers (SOCs) receive every day. AI and machine learning algorithms combined can help SOCs respond to repetitive security incidents without human intervention.

As per an artificial intelligence in the cyber security research paper by Capgemini, 75% of surveyed executives agreed that AI helped their organizations respond faster to breaches. 60% of the respondents said that AI improved their cyber analysts’ accuracy and efficiency.

Let’s look at the role of artificial intelligence in cyber security.

AI and Machine Learning for Cyber Security — Recent Advancements

Cybercriminals have been deploying AI bots to generate large volumes of traffic on the Internet — from creating fake accounts utilizing stolen personal information to sending out malicious data and malware through these accounts. It can be overwhelming to manually separate and act upon data from different sources — search engines, cybercriminals, malicious robots, and human users. Automated threats can be easily managed with the help of AI and machine learning solutions.

Detecting, Predicting and Responding to Cyber Threats

In 2020, Kaspersky’s detection systems found an average of 360,000 new malicious files every day. Security teams cannot detect and address such a high number of threats manually or with traditional IT systems. AI algorithms can! They can significantly reduce the burden of SOCs and cyber security teams, addressing the issue with ease and accuracy.

Sophisticated AI algorithms can identify malware and malicious files across large data sets before entering an organization’s network. Self-learning AI systems can also recognize behavioral changes and pattern irregularities in IT assets to detect even the tiniest cyber risks and predict threats. 

As per Capgemini’s Reinventing Cyber security with Artificial Intelligence report, 51% of surveyed organizations extensively use AI for cyber security threat detection. A vulnerability, once discovered, can be auto-addressed or patched in future instances with the help of AI. When there is suspicious activity, machine learning and AI can also halt transactions. They can put processes on hold and escalate the issue to the relevant team automatically.

Identifying Blind Spots

As businesses expand and perimeters vanish, security teams usually face the challenge of battling blind spots in their cyber security posture — due to non-traditional assets, weak passwords, misconfigurations, etc. Traditional security controls and monitoring tools tend to oversee these blind spots, and they can go unaddressed for months or years. Cybercriminals take advantage of such vulnerabilities to plan attacks.

AI has been playing a crucial role in detecting and reducing blind spots. By powering up security information and event management (SIEM) capabilities with AI, organizations can effectively discover and address network blind spots.

Addressing Cyber Espionage

By combining AI and threat intelligence, we can ensure 24/7 monitoring of all crucial IT assets and combat the cyber espionage challenge. It can help us stay a step ahead of cybercriminals.

Governments, intelligence agencies, and private organizations move from a defensive approach to active defense. They are no longer waiting for an attack to initiate hurried actions on the attack source. We can discover threat actors, understand enemy activities, and respond wisely with active defence operations. 

Cyber defence strategies leveraging AI, machine learning, and threat intelligence — such as the dynamic movement, distribution, and re-encryption of data — will also make it difficult for black hat hackers to steal and misuse personal, confidential, or financial information.

Challenges of AI in Cyber Security 

Unfortunately, the power of AI is not restricted to cyber protection alone. Cybercriminals too take advantage of technological advancements to plan sophisticated cyber attacks. Since machine-learning- and AI-enabled malware can self-study its environment and act accordingly, it can severely affect the target or victim. Such malware can also be challenging to discover.

Cybercriminals can launch compelling phishing campaigns and other cyber attacks that are highly destructive. They leverage AI’s continuous learning and predictive intelligence capabilities to analyze data intelligently, process security events and discover weaknesses. They integrate AI into fuzz testing to detect bugs and vulnerabilities and launch attacks with precision and greater control.

The use of AI in present-day cyber attacks makes it even more important for governments, the military, and corporations to better use the technology and protect their data and IT assets. However, some decision-makers are still hesitant to invest in cybersecurity AI solutions. Key challenges include:

- Finding the right talent: Currently, there is a shortage of AI experts who can efficiently manage cyber security and response, mitigate risks, and defend IT infrastructure and assets.

- Data complexity: As AI solutions are highly dependent on data, challenges such as data availability in disparate sources, low data quality, and data governance and curation issues could stall AI projects.

- Deploying the right AI tools and solutions: AI applications process and generate vast volumes of data to deliver the right, actionable insights. To take complete advantage of AI in cyber security, it is vital to invest in the proper data management infrastructure, tools, and solutions best suited to the business’s unique needs.

The Future of AI in Cyber Security

AI has been transforming the cyber security space for quite some time. Human effort, human intelligence, and artificial intelligence have worked together to predict, detect, and respond to cyber threats and attacks. As the attack surface expands and perimeters blur, AI applications will experience increased adoption. AI technology itself is constantly evolving to meet changing cyber security requirements.

AI takes over mundane, repetitive tasks from security analysts and manages them significantly faster with greater accuracy. At the same time, cyber security teams have more time at their disposal to focus on other important security activities that require their expertise. They have been proactively developing innovative security solutions. AI will continue changing the role of cyber security analysts and data scientists who will be in great demand to train AI models.

Organizations are upskilling their cyber security teams and introducing AI-related training programs and certifications. Soon, newer and more sophisticated cyber protection solutions powered by AI and machine learning will act as powerful weapons against AI-driven cyber crimes. The next few years sure look bright for AI in cyber security.

Get Familiar with AI-Enabled Cyber Security

It is time we realized the role of AI in cyber security and took action.

If you are an event curator or organizer looking for a speaker in any specialist area of AI, contact us. At Prophets of AI, we have knowledgeable speakers who can share their expertise on the application and benefits of artificial intelligence in all areas. Our Prophet, Walter O'Brien is a world-renowned AI cyber security expert and is available for your next project around AI in cyber security, we can even arrange a consulting gig to help you.


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