There’s no doubt that the pandemic has accelerated developments in all things tech. The increasing dependence on computers and the internet exerts immense pressure on cyber security forces to ensure our lives are safe. It is the virtual equivalent of double checking the lock before you leave your house. With traditional software being unable to keep up with mutating malware, cyber-security technology has turned to Artificial Intelligence (AI) to make security more robust.
Here’s a look at the impact of AI on cyber-security!
What is AI in cyber security? AI refers to the technology used in machines that imitate cognitive functions such as learning and problem solving. Machine Learning, a branch of AI allows the machine to learn and adapt with experience, just as we do. Deep Learning, another aspect of AI, allows the machine to study patterns and deviations, without any input from us. Cyber-security is in need of this technology because traditional methods struggle to keep up with cyber criminals who find innovative ways to attack your firewall. Your data is always under threat and older generations of cyber-security could identify the problem after the breach had occurred.
By bringing in AI, the goal is to create a sophisticated cyber-security system that can stay ahead of the threats, detect unusual actions and fix problems with the least amount of human intervention. As networks and systems become more complex, direct human participation in dealing with threats becomes less effective. But, by using AI-powered tech, your organisation’s defence mechanisms can be strengthened.
As software become more sophisticated, it is an unfortunate side effect that the threats also become more invasive and damaging. The signature indicators used by traditional security software are about 90% effective in apprehending recognised attacks but are essentially sitting ducks when it comes to new variants. AI would be the more viable option. Many specialists suggest the combination of traditional and AI analyses to be more productive.
Better Control over Vulnerabilities
The older school of cyber-security measures include compiling databases of vulnerabilities against which an organisation’s networks are compared. These points of vulnerability are increasing at a rapid rate. Over 20,000 new vulnerabilities were reported in 2019, which was 17.8% more than that of 2018. Considering the rates at which vulnerabilities are increasing, we are in of AI’s powers to track behavioural patterns, analyse them and protect an organisation before the vulnerabilities get exploited.
AI also has the bandwidth to monitor hardware performance and keep track of essential processes like backup power, cooling filters, power consumption, internal temperatures, bandwidth usage and so on. By doing so, it can assess hardware and infrastructure vulnerabilities and help reduce the cost of maintenance.
AI can also be more effective in controlling phishing. Phishing is the process of setting up fake websites or sending fraudulent communication from what appears to be reputed sources. AI can assist in weeding out these websites and protect your login credentials or payment information from being exploited.
By using AI powered machines, organisations can incorporate better security and authentication systems to safeguard their data. Instead of going the standard login-password route, biometrics such as facial or retina identification can be used to make firewalls stronger. While passcodes can be easily hacked, it is not the case with biometric authentication.
With AI, companies can also have better control over network security. The machine can learn typical network traffic patterns and isolate anomalies at the earliest. It can also recommend security policy and group workloads more effectively.
It’s obvious that AI is an extremely powerful tool that can reinforce cybersecurity to a great extent. But that does not mean there are no drawbacks.
Abusing the power of AI
Power is neither good nor evil. It is the intent behind its use that categorises it. As Uncle Ben famously told Spider-Man, “With great power comes great responsibility.” While we have the guardians, the good guys, using AI for its intended purposes, the knowledge of AI is also available to the hackers and other cyber criminals to misuse. On the one hand, we have machines that can learn to cope with newer threats and on the other, a machine that can learn to keep hacking. Is anybody else thinking of Rise of the Machines?
It’s not cheap
Maintaining a fully functioning AI-powered cyber-security system will put a financial burden on the organisation.
Generating data sets
Remember that an AI system learns and evolves with experience. These experiences are stored in the form of data sets. It is the responsibility of the organisation to research and collate the different kinds of threats. It is an extensive, time consuming, labour intensive activity without which the effectiveness of the system is compromised.
AI is a nascent, growing field. Developers are constantly working towards increasing its potential and pushing barriers. However, a badly designed set up can cause more harm than good to the organisation by including many false positive claims.
Reducing human capital
This is a fairly common drawback of any technology that attempts to reduce or remove human involvement. With increasing dependence on AI, there is bound to be a considerable number of IT graduates whose jobs might be at stake.
A major portion of our lives transgresses into cyberspace and the threats that loom there are intimidating. AI is the next big step to enhance cyber-security but one must keep in mind that the same technology can be used to subvert safety measures. By using a combination of traditional and AI-powered security system, we have better chances of keeping our data safe.