The impact of AI on Cyber Security

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are playing an increasingly significant role in cybersecurity.

Just as cyber criminals are now using automation to spread their malware far and wide as they attempt to snare the most targets, cyber defences deployed need to cater to that scale. Unfortunately, no human can handle the volume of cyber-attacks that are occurring.

The only effective response needs to be similarly intelligent. Automation, AI and machine learning need to be deployed to respond to the threat.

Yet while advanced AI tools are helping organisations of all sizes protect their systems, users and data, and respond to threats quicker, they are not 100% fool-proof.

Sometimes, hacking is just malicious and inconvenient. However, it can also be an extremely lucrative activity for cybercriminals. The challenge for businesses and organisations is to evolve their practices to keep up with the ever-changing technology.

As AI continues to develop and the world we live in becomes ever more digitised, the threat of cyberattack will keep increasing.  

And with systems becoming less reliant on humans, organisations need to stay up to date with the latest technologies and their capabilities.

All of this will have a big impact on your organisation’s cybersecurity. So, it’s crucial that you understand the role that AI plays, the benefits it brings and the drawbacks, so you can develop a cybersecurity strategy that properly and effectively integrates automation, AI and machine learning.

How is machine learning used in cybersecurity?

AI is impacting cybersecurity in a big way, and with technology continuously evolving, new threats and solutions are emerging all the time.

The cybersecurity landscape is like a game of cat and mouse. Cybercriminals are coming up with ever more sophisticated ways of breaching an organisation’s defences, and cybersecurity professionals are constantly developing solutions to the latest attack vectors. The days when a cybersecurity analyst could respond manually to each threat as it occurred are now gone – the speed at which new threat vectors manifest now is too rapid. It means organisations of all sizes cannot afford to ignore AI and the benefits it brings to cybersecurity.

AI-based systems can detect threats and other potentially malicious activities that conventional security systems can’t. Traditional security systems – such as antivirus from 10+ years ago – used signatures which were updated on a daily basis as new threats emerged.

While partially effective at the time, this didn’t allow for any response to emerging new or ‘day zero’ threats.

To do that you needed tooling that knew what normal system behaviour looked like and observed the way a device was functioning or the activities a user took, which would detect when something was out of the ordinary and put measures in place to address the emerging threat.

This is how the latest security tools function. They still use signatures, but also use behavioural analytics and baseline the behaviour in order to observe deviations.

Some examples of the types of behaviour an AI system could detect but a traditional system couldn’t include:

  • A user who doesn’t usually perform activities that require admin privileges sudden doing so
  • Unexpected and/or unauthorised software updates
  • Logins to a system from an unusual location
  • Apps on a PC that suddenly start using all its resources
  • A user who suddenly starts deleting a large volume of data
  • New admin accounts created suddenly
  • Unusual outbound traffic to the internet

Here are some of the ways AI can help bolster your organisation’s cybersecurity:

Threat detection

AI can help your organisation gain security insights while collecting and storing network metadata. Machine learning technology can be integrated into your chosen security solution to analyse the metadata to detect and prioritise potential cyberattacks in real-time.

Threat intelligence

Embedding AI into a security system can help your organisation develop a more robust threat response. Working with large security vendors enables you to gain insights into what’s happening across the cyber threat landscape through the insights they gain based on the large footprint their product has.

Rapid Automated Analytics

Catching threat actors requires the ability to process millions of inputs, and out of those millions, to put together the five or so items related to a single active attack. As the average number of security events a mid-size enterprise might experience in a day is around 100 million, no human can process this and pick out the needle in a haystack.

Human data analysis

AI can assist human data analysts and IT security professionals by automating repetitive or resource-heavy tasks, allowing your teams to address any cyberthreats in priority order. Automated tooling needs to present only the items that need attention to the cybersecurity analyst, not the 100 million items.

Drawbacks of using AI for cybersecurity

While there are many benefits to using AI to improve your organisation’s cybersecurity, there are also a few drawbacks.

Building and maintaining an AI system can be both time consuming and resource-heavy. It requires considerable memory, data, network capacity, and computing power, not to mention the hardware technology needed to support it.

As such, we’d recommend investing in a product that already has this capability. However, it’s worth noting that doing this properly may require significant investment. After all, analysing and storing 100 million items per day will be expensive.

AI systems are trained through learning data sets, which means your organisation will need to access many different sets of accurate malware codes, non-malicious codes and anomalies to remain fully protected. Selecting a managed SIEM solution that integrates AI, rather than having to build one from scratch, is the best way forward.

Without the proper specialist support to create such capability within your cybersecurity, your efforts may be counterproductive.  

Even if you have a technology solution in place, you’ll need someone to look at the incidents it finds that need human intervention, such as when someone’s account is compromised because they clicked a link and need to speak to a person about it.

Hackers also use AI to test their malware to enhance and improve it. This means it can learn from existing AI tools and develop more advanced attacks that can penetrate traditional cybersecurity systems. As the tools made available through AI are available to both the defenders and the attackers and if the attackers are using them, your organisation needs to be using them too.

Because of these limitations and drawbacks, the best thing your organisation can do is take a blended approach to cybersecurity, combining traditional systems and techniques with advanced AI tools to get the best of both worlds. As such, a layered defence that integrates a solution that uses AI/machine learning and big data is essential.

However, to get the full benefit of integrating AI in your organisation’s cybersecurity, it’s vital that it’s implemented by ICT professionals familiar with the way the various tools, systems and components work.

Working with an experienced ICT consultant with expertise in cybersecurity can help you understand your organisation’s current cybersecurity set-up, identify and weaknesses and create the solution and strategy to meet your needs.

How AMDH Services can help your organisation improve its cybersecurity

If you’re concerned that your organisation’s cybersecurity may be vulnerable to attack or want to discover more about the benefits of using AI to strengthen your cyber defences, AMDH can help.

We’ve illustrated the problem and we’ve illustrated the need for a solution, but if you’re wondering what that solution is or how to implement what we’ve said, give us a call.

We can help you identify the latest potential threats and vulnerabilities, understand the impact they can have, and find the best way to address them.

You may not possess the knowledge or expertise in-house to do this effectively.

We can provide you with an objective view of your organisation and the risks it faces, along with the technical leadership required to develop and implement an enhanced security strategy to address any concerns you might have.

We have a wealth of experience in developing and implementing data protection strategies and solutions. We can help your organisation identify and mitigate your risks and recommend the technologies and security options to deliver the best return on investment.

We can also provide you with the right technical expertise to enhance the overall value of your investment in cybersecurity technology.

To find out how we can help, get in touch today.

 

If you enjoyed this blog and want to learn more about how we can help your organisation improve its cybersecurity, give us a call on 01332 322588. And if you would like to stay up to date with the latest news, views and insight on everything going on in the ICT and technology sector, subscribe to our FREE email newsletter.

Want to know more?

Why not subscribe to our FREE Newsletter to receive regular updates from us on ICT, technology and what we’ve been doing?