Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity

Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity

Decision makers across industries are analyzing and help to improve cybersecurity to align with the growing cyberattack surface. The balancing act between protecting your data and maintaining compliance is becoming increasingly challenging. As we innovate and enhance, cybercriminals do the same. Cybersecurity is more critical than ever in this ever-changing landscape. 

Artificial intelligence and cybersecurity go hand in hand as we look to the digital future and leverage the latest technology to stay protected. According to Forbes, AI in cybersecurity is estimated to reach a market value of $46.3 billion by 2027 as more business leaders avail themselves of its ability to automate data, identify risks and protect sensitive information. 

Understanding the Cybersecurity Landscape

The current cyber threat landscape covers all the risks posed to different entities within their relevant contexts. Cyber threats are constantly evolving. Increased connectivity of devices and systems through the Internet of Things and the rapid increase of digital technology adoption across industries drives these risks. Cyber incidents remain pervasive, posing a consistent threat to any organization operating online. 

According to CNN, even the U.S. government remains a target as a victim of a recent global attack that exploits a vulnerability in a widely used software. Several hundred organizations across the country were affected in the same spree. For every new tool we develop to protect ourselves against cybercrime, hackers create one of their own, and incidences of cybercrime continue to rise. 

With the average data breach costing around $4.27 million according to Northwestern University, organizations must employ robust cybersecurity measures to stay ahead of the dangers. The application of AI in cybersecurity is one of many approaches to remaining agile in a dynamic space. It is an innovative tool that organizations can leverage to protect sensitive data and prevent the financial and reputational repercussions of a cyber event. 

Artificial Intelligence in Cybersecurity

AI is a broad term to describe the process of simulating human intelligence in machines so that they can reason and use logic to solve problems. Artificial intelligence in cybersecurity is based on the same principle — using AI's speed and computing power to create cybersecurity protocols that predict, identify and mitigate threats. 

Human error accounts for over 80% of cyber incidents, and AI can bridge the gap, automating tasks and recognizing patterns invisible to the human eye. For example, machine learning algorithms can classify malicious email attacks and identify lookalike features that employees may overlook. Tools like natural language processing can detect phishing activity and malware through keyword extraction.

AI learns through experience. Generative AI intersects with cybersecurity efforts, analyzing and learning from massive amounts of data to identify patterns and make informed decisions about responding to potential threats. While it can only address some cybersecurity challenges, AI is instrumental in supporting cybersecurity efforts and maintaining regulatory compliance. 

The Potential Advantages of Using AI in Cybersecurity

As technology evolves, we are seeing more AI applications in cybersecurity. It can help organizations detect and manage threats quickly and effectively. Some of the advantages of integrating AI into cybersecurity protocols include: 

1. Threat Detection and Prevention 

AI has a significant advantage over traditional software systems in detecting threats. As it learns from experience and operates faster than any human, you can train it to detect malware, recognize patterns, and flag the most minor changes. 

Predictive intelligence is another area in which AI shines. With natural language processing capabilities, AI can comb through news articles, journals and studies on cyber threats, creating a clear picture of how they could impact your organization. 

AI Threat Detection

2. Anomaly Detection

Forbes cites that approximately a third of electronic crimes are caused by insiders, intentionally and unintentionally. Before these attacks occur, an event often deviates from standard behaviors and patterns within your organization. AI can automate anomaly detection and comb through data as your team works to flag any activity that deviates from expected user behavior. 

Anomalies can also originate outside your organization through social engineering and phishing attempts. AI can identify these deviations faster than humans, allowing security teams to manage any activity that indicates a threat before cybercriminals can gain access. In some cases, AI can act without human interference, taking real-time action to neutralize an anomaly based on its risk profile. 

3. Incident Response and Mitigation

AI monitors network traffic and other sources, identifying potential security breaches in real time. Automating the early stages of threat detection shortens the time between an attack and detection, providing security teams with early warnings. It can then analyze the security events data and correlate unusual information, giving security analysts a clear understanding of the attack. AI algorithms can identify the root cause of an incident, guiding incident response and relieving the burden on your analysts. 

AI systems can also automate incident response actions. When you train it on response playbooks, AI can enact predetermined responses to specific threats, such as blocking malicious IP addresses and isolating compromised systems. It can contain attacks faster, reducing human effort and limiting the damage. 

4. Endpoint Protection

Every device — or endpoint — used for remote work is a potential risk. AI can take endpoint protection to the next level. It establishes a baseline behavior for an endpoint through a repeated training process. If something unusual occurs, AI can flag it and take action. AI lets organizations take a proactive stance on endpoint protection instead of waiting for signature updates from antivirus software and VPNs.

The Challenges of Implementing AI in Cybersecurity

Like any technology, AI has challenges and limitations. Just as organizations can use it to strengthen their cybersecurity profiles, malicious actors can leverage the same technology to enact adversarial attacks. Some of the other potential risks and limitations include: 

  • False positives or negatives: AI can generate false positives — identifying harmless activities as malicious — and false negatives, making the opposite mistake. False positives and negatives can be challenging to navigate as they divert valuable resources to nonexistent threats or ignore existing ones. 
  • Ethical concerns: While AI is groundbreaking in cybersecurity, it does pose ethical and regulatory considerations, particularly regarding data privacy. For example, healthcare organizations must navigate stringent HIPAA regulations to help with patient confidentiality. 
  • Skill shortages: AI is only a viable option for organizations that can access skilled AI cybersecurity professionals. With 63% of organizations claiming their most significant skills shortages are in AI and machine learning, bridging this gap can be challenging. With the requisite skills and experience, organizations may realize the total value of their AI and machine learning investments. 
  • Data quality: AI is as effective as the data you train it on and needs vast amounts of high-quality data to help improve its accuracy. Many organizations find it challenging to access enough of this high-level data due to privacy concerns and silos. 

As AI technology continues to evolve, one of the most potent actions organizations can take to overcome these challenges is to stay abreast of new trends. Investing in education and training and fostering a culture of learning is essential. Developing clear AI policies and strategies can also help you address ethical considerations before they become problems. 

Collaborating with leaders in AI and cybersecurity is essential to navigate the changing cybersecurity landscape. The additional skills could demonstrate invaluable in strategic decision-making and allow you to align your AI initiatives with cybersecurity regulations and best practices. 

Leverage AI in Your Cybersecurity Profile With BDO Digital

Navigating cybersecurity and its dynamic challenges is critical for all organizations. AI can enrich your cybersecurity profile and add much-needed protection against the significant risks of cybercrime. With BDO Digital, you can leverage AI to help improve your cybersecurity strategy, becoming faster, smarter and more resilient to change. 

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Request a cyber risk assessment and work with us for access to customized strategies that can help enable your distinctive needs. Be driven by data instead of drowning in it, and create a transformation strategy that elevates your cybersecurity efforts and boosts your business outcomes.