Artificial Intelligence is Cybersecurity’s New Line of Defense

The rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has opened a world of new potential for human-machine relationships and the future of technology. Not only can AI help fight disease, evaluate potential market changes, and automate the modern-day workplace, it can act as a much-needed defense system against potential digital threats. Taking into consideration the rate at which data has been publicly compromised, AI may be one of the only tools left to stay ahead of potential cybersecurity threats.

Evolution of Cybersecurity

cybersecurity has new line of defense with AI

IT leaders of the past faced an entirely different world of threats. Today’s IT leaders must adapt to a world of interconnected data, cloud computing, and a new breed of cyber criminals intent on not only stealing data, but also manipulating it. In 2018, the UK passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and created the largest change to data privacy regulation in 20 years. GDPR impacted cybersecurity everywhere and has indirectly contributed to opening up the need for cyber criminals to hone their tactics and introduce AI into their arsenal.

Friend or Foe?

AI in cybersecurity should be recognized as a double-edged sword. As often as it is the absolute best defense against security threats, it is also the best weapon. For this reason, specifically, it is imperative to keep AI trends in mind when choosing how to protect sensitive information. How is it possible to combat an algorithm that is able to search thousands of profiles for personal information in a matter of seconds? The best bet is another sophisticated algorithm that works just as quickly to identify, research, and nullify the threat.

Cybersecurity Concerns in 2019

New Consumer Privacy Laws

In 2018 California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CCPA regulates how corporations collect user data and what they’re ultimately allowed to do with user data. While technically only legislating California, tech giants in Silicon Valley will quickly have to start taking actions towards compliance in 2020. This may come as a relief to many consumers, but ultimately it will also usher in a new era of cybersecurity standards and practices as companies now have restrictions for the thousands of data points they collect and share about every adult in America.

As these large companies evolve and change their practices to meet CCPA, AI will undoubtedly play a large role in the transition and likely in their new processes. One of the noted “weak spots” in data protection is user passwords. Many companies are pursuing artificial intelligence systems to conduct biometric logins, which allows AI to scan physical features of a user for account access, thus eliminating the need for a risk-prone password all together.

Lack of Cybersecurity Professionals

Recent years have seen a huge surge in cybersecurity literacy and education. However, there is still an overall lack of true cybersecurity experts able to jump in when the next threat pops up. The 2018 (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Study reported that the shortage of cybersecurity professionals globally is close to 3 million, with a shortage of roughly 500,000 in the United States.

Can AI step in to fill the void?

Yes and no. To truly defend against cyber threats (or even cyber espionage), the best option is to have a team of cybersecurity professionals leverage AI for their defenses. There has been a huge spike in companies using AI to protect against threats recently because human workers are just not capable of scanning thousands and thousands of threat alerts a day. AI, however, can search for specific patterns and alert human teams to the threats they should be paying attention to.

Given the running shortage of cybersecurity professionals, new developments in AI may be part of a temporary solution. While a single worker cannot necessarily protect from cyber espionage on their own, a knowledgeable expert and a well-executed AI absolutely can in many circumstances.

Attacker Who?

cybersecurity has new line of defense with AI

Many high-profile international cyber attacks have been in the news recently and are stirring up the same question:

Who did it?

This seems like a simple and obvious question, but it’s one that wasn’t able to be answered consistently until recently. Cyber criminals hide their identity for legal purposes. Remaining hidden also makes it easier for them to strike again. Knowing who is attacking a business or organization is imperative to continue building the best cyber defense system possible, and AI is proving to be a star tool for finding the source of attacks through trend analysis.

AI defense systems can analyze information from online databases and registries to recognize clues about the infrastructure used by cybercriminals to launch attacks. This includes domain names and IP addresses associated with any devices used to participate in previous attacks.

Proactive defenses can be set up much more effectively if the attacker is known. AI has already been used automatically block IP addresses associated with known attackers and criminal groups, working to stop an attack before it can be launched.

Who should be worried about attacks?

cybersecurity has new line of defense with AI

At the end of the day, it’s hard to say just how protected any given business or organization might be with cyber attacks looming. Just as quickly as trends emerge, they dissipate, and the newest defense tactic may be deemed obsolete. On the contrary, the somewhat recent integration of artificial intelligence into cybersecurity brings hope that with the proper protections business owners need not fret: AI is on the job and it’s learning quick.


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