21 Jun, 2018

Can Artificial Intelligence Overcome the Hype to Help Cybersecurity?

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That promising view of what AI can deliver is not entirely wrong.

Businesses to governments are starting to face up to the vulnerabilities of everything being online. Sophisticated and disruptive cyber attacks are continuing to increase in complexity and scale across multiple industries. Areas of critical infrastructure from energy to critical manufacturing have vulnerabilities that make them a target for cybercriminals.

Just as businesses and authorities are beginning to understand the role that AI and machine learning will play in protecting them, criminals are using the same tools to get around defenses. With AI and machine learning showing encouraging signs of changing the face of cybersecurity, can these technologies break through the hype to truly help the cyberspace?

Where Do We Begin?

Fortunately, researchers developing new defenses at companies throughout North America largely agree on both the potential benefits and challenges. And it starts with getting some terminology straight.

“”I actually don’t think a lot of these companies are using artificial intelligence. It’s really training machine learning. It’s misleading in some ways to call it AI, and it confuses the hell out of customers.” –┬áMarcin Kleczynski, CEO of the cybersecurity defense firm Malwarebytes commenting on the correct terminology for AI and Machine Learning.

It is important to get the terminology straight in order to adapt to security breaches. Since machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence that refers to technologies that enable computers to learn and adapt through experience, distinguishing between the two provides a vital strategic initiative that businesses need to adapt to in order to truly be prepared for an attack.

Moreover, a weaponized AI in the hands of bad actors is a very worrying concept. However, it also highlights the importance of investing heavily in AI-defense and research. Thankfully, emerging machine-learning models are offering hope and greater protection against these sophisticated and complex threats, bringing to light the well-known “hype” that is surrounding the technologies.

Is it More than a Hype? It’s Complicated

With both sides using the same tools, systems will have the ability to learn patterns and identify deviations in a manner that traditional systems or analysts could ever dream of. Traditional protection methods involved the need for prior knowledge of a threat type before a defense could be prepared. This luxury is now confined to the history books.

To say that AI is just hype is to ignore both the significant and not-insignificant breakthroughs that have been made in the field, which are breakthroughs that are currently living in your smartphone and computer, for example. It also ignores the fact that not every AI has to have human-level intelligence in order to carry out its tasks.

“The answer to whether or not AI is just hype is complicated. The current boom is in some ways the result of companies inflating the abilities of their products, but there are also many companies out there doing extraordinary work. Ultimately, AI has a ways to go, but the advances already out there: advanced driver-assistance systems, facial recognition, voice assistants – are proof enough of the incredible potential that AI has to transform our lives and the way we work.” MediaPost reports.

Advances in technology are now enabling the rise in security systems that are always learning, adapting, and looking for new ways to preempt unseen methods of attack. Essentially, the most significant change is stopping attacks before they even occur.

Businesses should already be thinking about replacing reactive solutions with always online protection that is continuously learning emerging attack methodologies. We are entering a new digital era where AI and machine learning will undoubtedly redefine cybersecurity, and we have to take the appropriate measures to be prepared.

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