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How artificial intelligence is powering cybersecurity

Technology progresses daily and with this progression come threats and risks to social, financial and economic life.

Today, cyber-attackers have resorted to the use of automation to launch more frequent attacks on different businesses and corporations.

While cyber-attackers are expending a lot of resources to launch more sophisticated attacks, many organizations still rely on manual efforts to gather internal security findings and contextualize them with external threat information.

It was reported that carelessness of employee was the reason behind the ransomware attack in 51 percent of the cases.

However, such outdated methods and strategies need to part way for AI because they use up a lot of time, in which cyber-attackers can successfully take advantage of vulnerabilities to breach systems and steal data.

Today, many organizations are looking towards the efficient and effective use of artificial intelligence (AI) to address cyber risks and control operations. Artificial intelligence is very crucial to cybersecurity because, with it, new vulnerabilities and weaknesses can be identified promptly, dealt with and analyzed to help prevent further attacks.

AI, because it is smarter and more efficient has the ability to reduce pressure on humans. In 2018, 845.37 million malware were created and around 10 million new malware are created every month this year.

Unsurprisingly, traditional cybersecurity methods are inefficient in handling such a huge variety of threats. Many organizations lack security professionals and so, there is a very huge challenge on the shoulders of organizations in dealing with big data sets in security.

And since cyber-attackers already make use of high-end machines and automation to increase the effectiveness and sophistication of their attacks, it is only proper for organizations to adopt AI in order to combat this problem.

By using several datasets that include algorithms and codes, AI can develop pattern recognition that will help identify malicious behavior in software. To this end, firms involved in cybersecurity are training AI systems to detect threats with such data.

Also, AI and machine learning can play a paramount role in cybersecurity. These will enhance a firm’s threat detection and response potentials. Ultimately, AI can aid in the fight to secure sensitive information from cyber attackers.

Case for AI in cybersecurity: Data breaches

Two hospitals in West Virginia and Ohio refused patients due to a ransomware attack that led to a system failure. Due to the attacks, the hospitals could not process any emergency patient requests.

So, they sent incoming patients to nearby hospitals. Also, just before Black Friday, Amazon was targeted in a major security breach that compromised the email addresses and personal data of multiple users.

Another example is that of Yahoo who agreed to a $50 million settlement for a data breach in 2013. Approximately 3 billion email addresses and personal information were compromised in the data breach. Even with their state of the art security systems, they still fell prey to this cyber-attack.

The Verizon Data Breach report states that more than 70 percent of attacks exploited already known vulnerabilities with known patches. In addition, hackers take advantage of vulnerabilities within minutes of exposure. Hence, the need for increased security through AI.

Artificial intelligence and threat identification

A chief scientist once said that once, an antivirus researcher used to see 10,000 viruses throughout their whole career. However, they now encounter more than 500,000 each day. That is a very huge number!

The attack parameters that organizations have to defend from have expanded extensively and the number predicted to rise even further. With the coming of more applications, cloud services, mobile devices, and the Internet of Things (IoT), organizations are fighting on a largely expanded attack surface.

This challenge is making it more complex to identify the threats using traditional and manual systems. This further underscores the importance of AI to cybersecurity. It provides a game-changing role, giving organizations the power to identify future threats. With pattern recognition and other AI algorithms, it becomes easier to identify and classify threats to develop a knowledge base to detect threats faster.

AI and improving human experience

Already, AI is showing promises of being the answer to the challenges of security and cyber-attacks. Using AI for cybersecurity has introduced biometric login techniques for increased security. AI systems can scan retina, finger and palm prints accurately and used in conjunction with passwords for better security.

Also, machine intelligence is in widespread use in facial recognition at airports and other entry points for identification and to predict actions. AI can learn with Natural Language Processing, a very significant leap into the future of security.

With Natural Language Processing, Artificial Intelligence systems can select useful information from scanned data, thus providing better insight into cyber-attacks and mitigation strategies.

These advancements, including Google’s Neural Machine Translation System, all evidence to the capabilities and advancement of AI and its usefulness in improving human existence.

Risk assessment

There are a number of issues which we need to deal with before making AI available for every organization. There are ethical and legal issues to consider, such as who will bear the responsibilities for the actions of an autonomous computer which decides actions to take by itself and acts on them.

Another issue is figuring out how to increase alliance between security teams and IT operations teams, either of which may be liable in case of breaches in security.

Security teams are accountable for identifying security gaps, while IT operations teams focus on remediating these security gaps. This is usually a big challenge for many organizations.

Also, there is the issue of gathering accurate data, since AI systems are trained with data. Inaccurate data will surely lead to inaccurate and inefficient outcomes, therefore, cybersecurity firms need to feed new and accurate datasets of malicious codes and non-malicious codes regularly to help AI systems learn.

However, in light of results already seen, AI has proved itself to be revolutionary in dealing with cyber threats and solving cyber insecurities. All that is needed is continuous research and development in this revolutionary sector.

We will get better security protocols and soon, applications which use AI for cybersecurity will soon be mainstream.