Artificial Intelligence in Cybersecurity Operations

When utilized properly, AI and machine learning can make a significant difference in an organization's ability to keep up with the pace of threats and implement effective cybersecurity measures.

Artificial Intelligence in Cybersecurity OperationsIt’s a well-known fact that the cybersecurity industry faces a dramatic shortage of talented professionals with the necessary knowledge and skills. Due to a limited pool of cybersecurity resources, organizations are applying artificial intelligence (AI) to automate routine tasks.

Leveraging AI for cybersecurity operations frees up cybersecurity professionals to focus on high-priority tasks and proactive measures to improve the organization’s overall cybersecurity posture.

The Role of AI Systems in Cybersecurity

Machine learning and AI systems are the technological developments that are transforming how companies and organizations combat cybersecurity attacks. With artificial intelligence, machine learning can provide an alternative to traditional cybersecurity solutions.

We can use both these systems to identify and safeguard systems from some of the latest cybersecurity threats. Organizations can implement AI and machine learning to detect and predict new, complex threats since they process the nature of past attacks and identify other potential attacks that could occur in the same manner or style.

Machine learning is most useful as a tool when it has access to a large quantity of data to read and investigate, thus reducing attack surfaces through predictive analytics. Security teams tend to be overwhelmed by the volume of alerts that appear daily. Without the assistance of these systems, IT pros would be forced to spend copious amounts of time identifying these threats independently. As developers continue to provide existing programs with more data points while creating new types of AI, it is fair to argue that AI can help combat cybercrime in the future even more effectively.

The Potential Threats AI Poses

We know that artificial intelligence can significantly heighten any data security system's efficiency by spotting potential threats before they happen. But what are the dangers that AI could potentially pose to organizations? There are basically two threats, one is external and the other is internal. Manipulation of AI technology by hackers and a shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals both equally affect an organization’s cybersecurity execution.

The External Threat: AI Manipulation

With AI, cyber criminals can devote less time and effort in coordinating a large attack on an organization’s data system; instead, they can teach an AI system to carry out a cyber-attack with little to no human involvement.

Hackers can also break into AI data systems and manipulate an AI algorithm’s prioritization of information. By adjusting the algorithm to change what an AI system sees as valuable or not valuable data, a hacker can cause an AI system to damage or destroy your organization’s entire information system.

In the documentary The Social Dilemma, tech experts discuss the dangers of social networks on humans and point to how AI is running the world today.

“The algorithm has a mind of its own, that even though a person writes it, it’s written in a way that, initially you build the machine, and then the machine changes itself,” Bailey Richardson said in the documentary.

Sandy Parakilas, a former Facebook operations manager, goes on to say how even in big companies like Google and Twitter, there are only a few people who understand how these systems work, and even they don’t necessarily know what’s going to be the end result.

The Internal Threat: Shortage of Experts

The 2020 World Economic Forum Future of Jobs survey placed AI and machine learning specialists at number 2 of the top 20 job roles increasing in demand. And while that may be true, there is an undeniable shortage of AI talent to fill those jobs. The most in-demand positions are AI developers and engineers, AI researchers and data scientists. According to Deloitte’s State of AI in the Enterprise survey, while usage and awareness of the various risks of AI has grown, the adoption of particular actions to help mitigate those risks has not, even by the most skilled adopters.

Beyond hiring standard IT personnel, any organization looking to integrate AI into its systems should also consider hiring either internal or external AI security who can implement regular security protocols into these systems. This ensures the effectiveness of an AI system’s algorithms. Nonetheless, if the right steps to educate and train the workforce are not taken, there will be a serious talent shortage with the necessary AI skills to fill in-demand cybersecurity positions.

There is still a lot of hype and confusion about artificial intelligence and machine learning. Yet, when utilized properly, these technologies can make a significant difference in an organization's ability to keep up with the pace of threats and implement effective cybersecurity measures.

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Vesa Merxha contributed this article and writes for the Bay Atlantic University blog.

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