Written by: Isla Sibanda, Cybersecurity Specialist
As digital transformation soars, so does the number and sophistication of data breaches. Even when you have a team of experts working together to increase online security, threats from phishers, hackers, scammers, and extortionists are getting more serious as days go by.
For instance, global cyberattacks intensified in early 2022, with an over 40% increase from the previous year. In fact, ransomware intensified in many regions worldwide and was officially declared a state-level weapon by mid-2022.
Research shows that most traditional cybersecurity strategies seem to lag behind in the new wave of cyber threats. But how can artificial intelligence (AI) improve aspects of cybersecurity, including incident response, malware detection, and more? Let’s find out.
Do you have a solid cybersecurity strategy in which to incorporate AI? Find out what it takes by accessing Impact’s eBook, What Makes a Good Cybersecurity Defense for a Modern SMB?
How Can AI Help Stop Cybercrime?
With cyberattacks increasing every day, and particularly with the rise of security threats following the pandemic, it’s time for all businesses to adopt AI-powered tools. This software can help business owners protect themselves by identifying and blocking threats before they cause harm.
The idea is for companies to utilize software with AI capabilities to supplement human expertise by finding vulnerabilities, recognizing new types of malicious traffic, and notifying hacking attempts fast.
For example, if a system notices an action never seen before, it will flag it and notify you so you can review it for malicious intent. This allows you to proactively protect your systems instead of just waiting for an actual attack to take place.
How It Works
To be a powerful tool against cyberattacks, AI has three main functions:
- Anomaly Prediction. AI can be used to predict potential cyber threats. It does this by sorting through data and making predictions based on what it’s programmed to identify. Organizations adopt this AI technology to help identify vulnerabilities in their systems and strengthen their defenses against potential attacks.
- Anomaly Detection. AI helps find signs of irregularity associated with networks, websites, or applications and sends a notification so you can investigate further and take necessary measures to prevent an attack. Research shows that by 2022, at least 50% of businesses will have adopted AI for this purpose.
- Attack Response. In addition to prediction and detection, organizations can now use AI to fight and stop attacks in real time. An organization can program AI software to detect a potential threat and eliminate it without the need for human intervention. AI can do this by automatically developing a virtual patch and other protection mechanisms in the face of a threat.
How Is AI Used in Cybersecurity Now?
There are numerous approaches to applying AI to cybersecurity. Some AI applications are currently used in cybersecurity or other areas for businesses already, while others are still undergoing testing or development. Here are the most common AI applications in cybersecurity today:
- AI-Based Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS). This facet of AI can detect possible threats by tracking the system patterns and identifying abnormal traffic and malicious activities. Like a human, the AI will need to be familiar with what is considered normal within the system to be able to identify the abnormal.
- AIOps Platforms. This facet of AI runs complex algorithms over massive data volumes containing what can be known as regular system traffic and abnormal or malicious traffic, intending to predict and fight any threats before it happens. This way, organizations can discover potential attacks and block them before they take place.
- Machine Learning-Assisted Malware Analysis. This facet of AI helps develop high-level malware analysis tools that can strengthen cybersecurity. Machine learning-assisted malware analysis can examine large volumes of data for malicious patterns. For example, you can use AI to scan all emails coming in to identify and prevent any incoming phishing threats. This is one of the most important pieces of software for overcoming the human element and preventing phishing attacks.
- Machine Learning-Assisted Hacking Tools. This facet of AI creates some of the best-known hacking tools in the market today. One popular example is machine learning-assisted malware analysis, described above. But it also paves the way for cybercriminals to develop more sophisticated tools to further their attacks. As it develops, it might create a future filled with artificial intelligence-assisted phishing and ransomware attacks.
With the rising number of attacks, organizations must stay alert and adopt different AI applications to protect their businesses. While there are other things they can do to protect their assets, like trade cryptocurrencies, those are only a symptom patch, not a true solve like a thorough cybersecurity strategy.
Real-Life Examples of Companies Using AI for Cybersecurity
Here are three companies investing big in AI:
Tessian leverages AI capabilities to prevent breaches, business email compromise, spear phishing attacks, and data loss from harmful emails.
For instance, the company utilizes machine learning technology to integrate email filters that help eradicate unwanted and suspicious activities in both inbound and outbound emails. The software also includes a real-time dashboard, allowing security teams to monitor their infrastructure’s health.
VMware Inc is an information technology (IT) company that focuses on development and application of virtualization technologies for businesses to manage IT resources across private clouds and multi-cloud.
VMwareInc is one of the companies that uses machine learning technologies to help organizations using their product identify suspicious activity before it’s in their networks. This allows security teams and cybersecurity analysts to identify eminent threats in time and collaborate with other organizations to share findings and discuss prevention measures.
Hutchinson & Bloodgood
Hutchinson & Bloodgood uses AI (DNSFilter) to provide comprehensive protection when customers and staff are using its internet domain connections.
This software has a content filtering and threat detection system that is divided into 36+ categories offering maximum cyber protection against domain-based threats. Utilizing this AI, Hutchinson & Bloodgood has managed to stave off domain-based threats and keep away all disruption against its workflows.
Conclusion: The Future of Cybersecurity
If the cybersecurity industry doesn’t evolve fast enough, cyberattacks will continually increase and become more dangerous. That’s why it’s clear that AI is the future of cybersecurity.
Although cybercriminals might also up their game and adopt AI in their own criminal activities, there is proof that AI can offer great tools to defend our networks against malicious attacks. So, organizations need to keep up with technological changes in the AI space in order to be able to fight cyberattacks and protect their systems against any cyber threats.
AI may be the future of cybersecurity, but what does your strategy look like at present? Make sure you have a solid foundation by downloading Impact’s eBook, What Makes a Good Cybersecurity Defense for a Modern SMB?
Isla Sibanda is an ethical hacker and cybersecurity specialist based out of Pretoria, South Africa. For over twelve years, she has worked as a cybersecurity analyst and penetration testing specialist for several reputable companies, including Standard Bank Group, CipherWave, and Axxess.