Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the way the world works. From diagnosing diseases and detecting fraud to writing articles and optimizing agricultural crops, the applications of AI are rapidly expanding across all sectors of society. Cybersecurity is no exception. Based on a report by MarketsandMarkets, the global AI in cybersecurity market size is currently valued at $22.4 billion and is expected to swell to $60.6 billion by 2028. Below are ways that AI-powered tools are already impacting the world of cybersecurity.
What is AI?
AI refers to the use of technology to simulate human intelligence to perform tasks and solve problems. AI incorporates Machine Learning (ML), in which machines are taught to learn and improve from experience and to make decisions and solve problems like a human being would, but with extra-human speed and efficiency. AI-enabled machines can sift through massive amounts of data to identify patterns, reason what the patterns mean, and react accordingly.
How is AI Being Used to Improve Cybersecurity?
AI enhances the ability of cybersecurity teams to detect, analyze, and respond to threats. AI-enabled tools have the ability to rapidly process and analyze vast amounts of data to detect patterns and anomalies that could indicate an attack. Based on their analyses, the algorithms can assess the severity of an incident and respond appropriately, such as by alerting the IT team and/or mounting an automatic protective response. AI can also be used to scan an organization’s technology systems for vulnerabilities to proactively pinpoint weaknesses that need to be fortified.
An AI algorithm’s ability to simultaneously process massive amounts of data from various sources enhances the system’s ability to detect subtle anomalies and patterns that traditional systems may not pick up. And because AI-enabled tools rapidly learn from experience, they improve a cybersecurity system’s ability to recognize emerging threats, such as previously unknown malware variants. Compared to traditional antivirus software, which uses a database of known malware signatures to identify threats, AI analyzes the behavior of programs and files to pinpoint suspicious anomalies that could indicate a new variant.
AI’s transformational ability to process and interpret large amounts of data reduces the response time of threat detection and allows for a more immediate response to thwart and prevent attacks. This minimizes the potential impact of many attacks and the associated costs. AI also makes a cybersecurity system more efficient by automating certain routine and repetitive tasks that are traditionally performed by humans, such as security log analysis, vulnerability assessments and patch management. This frees up IT and security staff to focus on more complex and higher-order tasks.
But The Bad Guys Have AI, Too
Unfortunately, threat actors are also using AI to enhance the sophistication and expand the reach of their cyber attacks. This includes using AI to generate more sophisticated malware and disseminate it rapidly. Malware typically infects a machine by tricking users to click on or install a program and then steals valuable information or performs other acts, such as blocking the user from the system with the ultimate goal of demanding a ransom payment in exchange for access.
AI is also being used to create more realistic phishing messages, which attempt to imitate a person or company that the recipient knows and trusts. Phishing emails induce the individual to reveal valuable information such as credit card numbers or passwords and can lead to further breaches and attacks.
Threat actors are also using AI to expand their brute-force attacks, which refers to the use of trial and error to crack passwords, login credentials, and encryption keys. With AI analyzing exponential amounts of data, cyber criminals have a greater ability to hone in on more lucrative targets, exposing vulnerabilities and allowing them to focus their attacks where they can realize the greatest gains.
AI Is Not a Substitute for Other Security Measures
AI does not replace human cybersecurity experts. Human judgment and oversight are crucial to the effective and accurate use of AI. Further, AI is only one tool in an organization’s toolbox to protect against the increasingly complex threat landscape. In today’s world, all organizations should have a comprehensive cybersecurity plan with multi-layered security measures that include anti-virus and anti-malware software, secure DNS, 24x7x365 monitoring, strong password policies and multi-factor authentication (MFA), security audits, and security education and training for all team members.
Tabush Group is a leading provider of secure cloud-based IT solutions and managed IT services. To learn more about how Boxtop, our Desktop as a Service (DaaS) solution, can make your firm’s operations more secure and efficient, contact us.