There is a growing concern that the increasing use of AI could create a tipping point where the technology grows and permeates our personal lives and businesses rapidly, building upon itself while cyber protections are still catching up.
We must ensure these technologies are secure if we rely on generative AI, machine learning, and deep learning capabilities to increase efficiencies and convenience. There is a push to implement AI-enabled security solutions to respond to fast-evolving threats. However, the technology is also in the hands of cybercriminals.
The rapid deployment of AI enables cyber criminals with more sophisticated means to strategize and execute cyberattacks with greater success, increasing and broadening the attack landscape. In response, cybersecurity that integrates AI technology, while still in the early stages of adoption, is accelerating, with the global market expected to grow by $19 billion from 2021 to 2025. However, there is still much work to be done. Many companies are not sure how to identify and manage digital risks. In addition, the definition of a security incident is no longer clear. AI capabilities can equip bad actors with deceptive social engineering techniques that mask malicious emails and web links and make malware more elusive. AI also helps bad actors find and exploit vulnerabilities in system misconfigurations and software flaws, putting organizations at greater risk.
The consequences of not developing robust AI cybersecurity defensive measures can be disastrous. The loss of human life is possible if there is tampering with AI medical algorithms or national security is compromised by an adversary feeding disinformation to a military AI system. On a business level, when malicious actors misappropriate AI, organizations face significant repercussions such as reputational damage, revenue losses, regulatory backlash, criminal investigation, and diminished public trust. The impact of AI on an expanding threat landscape could cause significant damage to organizations if adequate cybersecurity measures are not in place.
Capitalizing on the marvel of AI’s data consumption
Cybersecurity vendors with deployments across many enterprises serve as sensors for picking up data. By applying AI to the anonymized data from each customer, vendors can use the threat data from one organization to look for signs of similar breaches elsewhere. These analytics provide deep insights into threat patterns that can inform proactive defense measures.
There are some moderate to highly imaginative projections and concerns regarding the future position of AI in taking over the role of skilled security personnel. Rather than replacing the role of cybersecurity personnel and solutions, AI will become a highly valuable security partner and the driving force behind cybersecurity tools and products. Unfortunately, it will also continue to be the impetus behind cyber attackers’ tactics and techniques. The ongoing challenge will be to harness AI’s powerful capabilities for predominantly altruistic endeavors rather than further fueling malicious exploitations.
AI has its place as a cybersecurity team player
AI will undoubtedly augment the capabilities of cybersecurity experts in myriad and, as yet, untapped ways. However, while AI can significantly enhance threat detection and conduct 24/7 monitoring, it lacks human judgement and intuition, making human oversight and decision-making critical. The amalgamation of AI and human expertise will be necessary to ensure a secure and resilient corporate digital ecosystem.
Future cyber battles will escalate with AI
As attackers develop new tools and techniques, defenders will create solutions for identifying and blocking them. Future cyber battles will likely escalate this good guy versus bad guy conundrum as AI evolves, necessitating continual innovation on both sides.
Corporate defenders must address both sides of the equation to narrow the gap between the attackers’ time to compromise and the defenders’ time to respond. An integrated approach involving security orchestration, automated testing and response, information sharing, and other advanced defense methods can equip defenders with a much-needed advantage.
Lydia Zhang is the President and Co-founder of Ridge Security. She holds an impressive entrepreneurial-focused resume that includes 20 years of leadership roles in network and cyber security. Lydia leads a Silicon Valley cybersecurity startup that develops automated penetration testing with the goal of delivering innovative security technologies to all. Prior to founding Ridge Security, Zhang held Senior Vice President and Product Management roles at Hillstone Networks and Cisco Systems. She holds a double Masters, MA, and MS, from USC, and a degree from Tsinghua University in Biomedical Engineering