Artificial Intelligence’s Influence in Cybersecurity

What is AI?

AI, or Artificial Intelligence, is the term used for the ability for computers to learn to perform functions that typically would require human intelligence and brain functionality to perform. Examples of this include visual perception, speech recognition, and even translating information between languages. There are two major subsections of AI, narrow AI and general AI.

Narrow AI is just that, narrow. They are systems which are designed to only learn or be taught how to complete specific tasks. This is the sort of AI we encounter far more often than general AI. When we are online shopping for a pair of shoes and then see an ad on our social media for similarly styled shoes, that’s narrow AI. When we typically think of AI, we think of robots and self-driving cars, this sort of technology falls under the second category of AI.

General AI, on the other hand, is the more advanced subsection of Artificial Intelligence. This type of AI shares attributes with the human brain, meaning that it is capable of learning how to complete a multitude of very different tasks. As it learns more and more, it can argue on a variety of different topics and even perform diverse tasks — one machine with general AI can solve complex math problems one minute and chopping up onions the next minute. Regardless of the type of AI, it will undoubtedly be integral for the future of technology.

AI in Cybersecurity

While Artificial Intelligence enables machines to perform different functions, cybersecurity professionals have also realized that it is something that can be used as a tool in the future of defending our online data. Below are just a few examples of how AI will impact cybersecurity as they two tech worlds become more and more integrated.

Bridging the Cybersecurity Skills Gap

The cybersecurity skills gap is a very real, very unnerving thing for many professionals in the industry. A study conducted by the MIT Technology Review found that the number of unfilled cybersecurity jobs is expected to grow by 350%, from one million positions in 2013 to 3.5 million in 2021, with less than 25% of said applicants lacking the proper qualifications for those positions. While this needs to be addressed by an emphasis on STEM learning to spark an interest in cybersecurity for some kids from an early age, AI can help to alleviate the current situation and bridge the cybersecurity skills gap. This technology helps to fix this existing issue moreso than other forms due to its adaptability, particularly general AI and it’s ability to work as close to the human brain as is currently possible.

Just one example of how this can be beneficial to a business is, by assisting businesses in prioritizing security alerts and filtering out what is real and what is fake. Many companies receive thousands, if not millions, of security alerts over the course of a single day. It can lead to a major vulnerability if these risks are not sifted through, however, it takes a significant amount of man power to handle such a task, especially for a potentially short staffed cyber team – this is a tedious task that can be taken care of by AI, filtering the real risks over to a person to address.

Predictive Artificial Intelligence

Many cybersecurity defenses rely on looking at past threat trends and trying to create models to predict when the previous types of attacks will impact the company. Predictive AI is essentially AI in a predictive analytics platform which can detect real-time abnormalities in a business’ regular operations. This is a fairly new form of Artificial Intelligence, however, with a White Paper study having been focused on how predictive AI will disrupt the cyber world, it is definitely something to look out for.

The Dark Side: AI in the Hands of Cybercriminals

AI presents so many wonderful opportunities for the world of cybersecurity, however, it also creates some major vulnerabilities when the equally skillful malicious actors get their hands on this technology as well. Cybercriminals have the ability to use real AI-based algorithms to attack companies in completely new ways, even evolving existing cybercrimes into worse, more vicious attacks.

An example of this is turning phishing scams, where malicious emails veiled as legitimate ones are sent to unsuspecting victims in order to steal some sort of information from them or gain access to their computers, into more malicious attacks. Malicious actors could use AI to impersonate a familiar person in an email in order to gain information. Due to attacks like these, it is essential for businesses to enact AI as a cyber defense to protect their databases. Advanced AI is one of the best things to utilize in order to defend against other advanced AI.

Artificial Intelligence, in all of its forms, presents both amazing opportunities for cybersecurity advancement while at the same time presenting great cyber-risks. It is essential that the balance be leaning in favor of AI for good rather than AI for bad in order to protect businesses and people alike.

Image by Starline for Freepik