As a CTO with over one and a half decades of expertise in the ever-changing field of cybersecurity, I have been observing the immense impact that artificial intelligence (AI) has had on the wide technological landscape. Also, I have witnessed how AI-based solutions have emerged as a crucial aspect of enhancing processes in various fields and disciplines over the years. And the cybersecurity field is no exception.
The ability of AI-based machine learning (ML) models to identify patterns and make data-driven decisions and inferences present a highly innovative approach to quickly identifying malware, directing incident response and even predicting potential breaches before they occur.
Given the significant potential of AI in the field of cybersecurity, this article explores how AI fits into the broader cybersecurity landscape and how it can be effectively leveraged to enhance the security of businesses and their users, along with some of its limitations.
Exploring the intersection of Artificial Intelligence and cybersecurity
In the modern era of digitization, data is exponentially generated, and a larger amount of metadata is either saved or received online, whether directly or indirectly. Moreover, for the data to attain its intended location or be utilized for specific purposes, it is frequently crucial to transmit it across a network or store it in a specific database or server.
Here is where cybersecurity practices are implemented to ascertain the ultimate safeguarding of data transmission, storage and access — which is a crucial aspect of the battle against cyberattacks.
As the technological landscape advances, cybercriminals tend to execute a diverse array of illicit activities, leading to substantial disruption in the online community. However, businesses can harness the power of AI and cybersecurity to mitigate risks and enhance security by detecting fraudulent activities and cyberattacks.
Having said that, AI serves as a crucial factor in machine-based decision-making. For example, a sophisticated AI system could detect dubious actions on the network and impede access until the requisite authorization is provided. These AI techniques are predicated on machine learning algorithms, empowering programmers to train algorithms using data collected over an extended duration.
The AI algorithm is designed in such a way that it can recognize and differentiate between legitimate access and fraudulent access. Accordingly, it improves a business's security by making attacks and irregularities more predictable.
Furthermore, AI technologies have a computational and analytical speed that surpasses human efforts and can determine abnormalities far more quickly than present techniques. As a result, AI and ML techniques can together help businesses defend against cyberattacks that could cost them millions of dollars.
How to leverage AI in the cybersecurity landscape
As previously discussed, AI has many advantages and applications in various fields, including cybersecurity. Given the rapidly evolving nature of cyberattacks and the development of sophisticated attacking mediums, AI can benefit businesses by staying up-to-date in terms of security.
AI can improve threat detection through automation and provide a more effective response compared to traditional security systems and manual techniques. This helps businesses optimize their cybersecurity measures and stay ahead of potential threats. Here are some key benefits of leveraging AI in the cyber security landscape.
Businesses can tremendously benefit from AI-based cybersecurity practices in identifying cyber threats and disruptive activities by cyber criminals. In fact, the proliferation of new malware is happening at an alarming rate, making it extremely challenging for traditional software systems to keep up with the evolving threat landscape.
AI algorithms, however, discover patterns, recognize malware and find any unauthorized activities done before they impact a system. This makes AI a valuable tool for protecting against cybercrime and maintaining the security of business operations.
In fact, AI and ML-based cybersecurity solutions can significantly shorten the time required for threat identification and incident response, and they can immediately notify the business of unusual behavior.
Another realm where AI is employed to combat digital threats is the defense against bots. In today's virtual landscape, a considerable volume of web traffic is generated by bots, some of which pose potential security hazards. Bots, also identified as automatic scripts or software, are used by cybercriminals to initiate attacks on websites, networks and systems.
Furthermore, bots can be utilized for a variety of malicious activities, such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, takeovers of accounts and the scraping of sensitive information.
AI-based solutions can be used to detect and block bot traffic by analyzing the patterns and behaviors of the incoming traffic. Machine learning algorithms can be trained to identify and flag suspicious activity, such as high volumes of artificial traffic coming from bot networks or abnormal requests.
With AI, businesses can effectively discover the answers to questions like "what seems like a normal user journey?" and "what would be a potentially harmful atypical experience?" by looking at data-based behavioral patterns.
AI can greatly benefit the cybersecurity landscape by detecting sophisticated phishing attempts. AI-based machine learning models can analyze and classify incoming emails and messages to identify whether they are legitimate or fraudulent.
By leveraging natural language processing techniques, AI can scan for keywords, phrases and other indicators that are commonly associated with phishing attacks. This lowers the possibility of a successful phishing attack by enabling security teams to swiftly identify and address possible risks.
Moreover, AI algorithms can detect and flag suspicious URLs and domains. Phishing attackers often use deceptive URLs to trick users into revealing sensitive information. AI-based cybersecurity systems can analyze URLs and domain names to identify whether they are genuine or fake. These systems can then block access to malicious websites or display warning messages to users before they interact with the site.
Limitations of AI in cybersecurity
AI systems, despite their ever-increasing sophistication, remain beholden to limited knowledge. These systems can only function with the aid of their trained data sets, thus making them potentially impotent in the face of novel or intricate threats that lie beyond their recognized realm. Furthermore, such limitations render them susceptible to both false negatives and false positives, thus facilitating both instances of unidentified threats and unnecessary alarms.
Another crucial risk confronting AI systems is the presence of inherent biases and resultant discrimination. Such biases can emerge as a consequence of unbalanced data sets or faulty algorithms, thus engendering either unfair or inaccurate assessments, potentially leading to serious consequences.
Finally, there exists the formidable threat of an over-reliance on AI systems, which can lead to risky complacency and, eventually, a false sense of safety. This could then lead to a regrettable lack of focus on other crucial aspects of cybersecurity, such as user education, the enforcement of policies and regular system updates and patches.
The application of AI in detecting and combating cybercrime is undoubtedly a game-changer, bringing new and improved levels of efficacy to the cybersecurity domain. Also, it goes without saying that incorporating human intelligence along with AI can overcome any possible limitations posed by AI systems.
There's presently an extensive acceptance that AI plays an important part in data security, and this acceptance is anticipated to expand over the upcoming years as businesses realize its advantages. In fact, the commercial appraisal of AI in data security is expected to attain $66.22 billion by 2029, growing at a CAGR of 24.2% between 2020 and 2027.
In order to stay ahead of cyber threats, businesses ought to invest in developing and implementing novel AI-based cybersecurity solutions. The continued breakthrough of AI expertise will doubtlessly influence the prospect of data security, and businesses that leverage AI effectively will be best postured to safeguard themselves against cyber threats and provide exceptional user satisfaction, thereby sustaining a competitive advantage.
Originally published at Entrepreneur