How AI is impacting security in 2019
In 2019, cyber threats are occurring at a rapid pace. In fact, cyber attacks are the fastest growing crime globally and are continuously increasing in sophistication, size, and impact. At the same time, the number of qualified cybersecurity professionals is dwindling. In a recent blog post, Ann Johnson, the head of Microsoft’s cybersecurity solutions group, used estimated data from the research firm Cybersecurity Ventures to project a shortage of about 3.5 million qualified cybersecurity workers by 2022.
Artificial intelligence (AI) can serve as a helpful tool in cybersecurity. AI can help businesses of all sizes and across many industries better prepare for impending security threats. Here are three of the most impactful benefits of AI in online security:
Detects evolving security threats
New generations of malware and cyber-attacks can be difficult to detect with conventional cybersecurity protocols. They evolve over time; therefore, more dynamic approaches are necessary. However, new AI algorithms use machine learning (ML), which according to Simon Crosby, co-founder and CTO at Bromium, helps "organizations to discover signs of untoward activity and to protect their assets from attack."
Cybersecurity solutions that rely on ML use data from previous cyber-attacks to respond to newer but somewhat similar risks. For example, AI security firm Darktrace claims that its ML technology has identified 63,500 previously unknown threats in more than 5,000 networks, including zero-day exploits, insider threats, and subtle, stealthy attacks.
Frees up time for IT professionals
A shortage of cybersecurity professionals means that those currently in the field will have a greater amount of responsibilities and fewer resources to accomplish them. However, one of the many benefits of using AI in cybersecurity is it can free up an enormous amount of time for tech employees.
Many cybersecurity solutions have begun to use AI-fueled automation, which allows professionals to automate many of the tasks that previously had to be done manually. Instead, automation redirects human efforts toward higher-value activities. For example, Oracle’s autonomous database can perform all software patches and updates autonomously. Without the use of automation, implementing a patch can take a minimum of 30 days.
Fights even the most common types of cyber threats
Although many people might think of AI’s application for cybersecurity in lofty terms, it can actually be demonstrated in something as commonplace as email. Phishing attacks are one of the most widely-experienced cyber attacks, with 76 percent of organizations reporting phishing attacks in 2017.
The use of AI to stop phishing attacks sounds futuristic and out of reach, but it’s on the market today and attainable for businesses of all sizes. AI has the ability to learn and analyze an organization’s unique communication pattern and flag inconsistencies, which are likely to be phishing emails. Over time, AI can become smarter and more effective, identifying potential attacks in real-time and identifying high-risk individuals within the organization who may be more susceptible to attacks.
With numerous, sophisticated cyber threats looming, businesses of all sizes need to take their cybersecurity strategy seriously. AI offers businesses a new tool to add to their cybersecurity toolkit, mitigating risk and stopping attacks before they become severe.
Marie Johnson is a contributor to Enlightened Digital, a UX Designer and a technology writer from New York City. If she’s not writing her latest blog post in her kitchen, you'll likely find her strolling through Central Park, cappuccino in hand.