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Will AI be the silver bullet for cyber security?

AI will revolutionise the way we live and do business, but will it be the flagship in the defence against cyber threats?

Image-Thomas Dennison

Thomas Dennison

Security, Strategy and Innovation Specialist, Security Sales

The security threat landscape continues to proliferate at an exponential rate. As the efficiency and intelligence of attackers grows daily, new vulnerabilities are being identified and exploited across a variety of platforms including email, social media, mobile and other endpoints. The number of hacks per day is rising, it almost tripled to 611,140 per day in 2017. This creates a need for technology that detects anomalies and threats, speedily fixes the issue before damage is done and learns from attacks, all in real time, without human intervention. It has been widely speculated that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be the ‘silver bullet’ that protects all from the torrent of online dangers that companies face daily; a critical tool in businesses’ arsenals of defence against cybercrime.

There is truth in this. Businesses can utilise AI tools such as machine-learning algorithms, to understand behavioural norms, accelerate insights and create adaptive defences to threats. As the use of analytics and AI rapidly expand, the demand for the creation of personalised security experiences for business users and consumers will grow exponentially. AI is enabling organisations to automate network security workloads, allowing security teams to focus on strategic and threat reducing initiatives which can only benefit firms.

By 2021, Gartner predicts that 40 percent of all new enterprise applications created by service providers will include AI technologies. Machine learning is a vital sub-field of that. Born out of statistical modelling, machine learning enables systems to absorb information and adapt through repeated exposure to data without being programmed. The use of machine learning is integral for digital transformation. The number of implementations and projects using machine learning are growing at an exponential rate, and this accelerated adoption will only continue to speed up in 2019. Applications range from data analysis for finance and data security, to reducing energy usage in the production of fuels and creating accurate recommendations for cancer treatments in healthcare.

While AI appears to be transforming information security, this transformation will not happen overnight. There is always a risk that firms will overlook ways in which AI and machine-learning algorithms specifically, could create a false sense of security. As AI control’s more and more systems, attackers have increasingly lucrative incentives. A strong, adaptive attacker can easily evade some of today’s defences, using the same machine learning technologies that hide from, or mimic safe code to elude traceability. The dangerous truth is that although AI can detect anomalies and security issues much more quickly than humans can – the same tools and technologies are also available to cyber criminals to carry out attacks, such as using AI to scan for open and vulnerable ports at unprecedented scale for example.

AI is enabling a revolution for technology and is accelerating the fight against cyber threats. This allows machines to recognise, alter, and improve upon their own internal architecture with minimal human supervision. AI isn’t a silver bullet, but it will prove a powerful force in helping businesses to secure their people, places and things. As training improves, we’ll soon see AI take a much greater role in monitoring, preventing, and responding to cyber attacks like database breaches, DDoS attacks, and other threats that can drive organisations to their knees. Your online protection will be in the hands of the machines, arguably the safest hands it could be in.

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