Artificial intelligence (AI) holds tremendous promise for the future with its potential to reduce cybersecurity threats, through both prevention and quick response to intrusions. 

As the future of work evolves, businesses investing in remote work and learning can use AI to protect their intellectual property. 

According to Accenture, companies that scale AI receive 3X ROI. Learn their four key steps to becoming a strategic professionalized scaler here.

Vulnerable Targets

The healthcare and education sectors are currently especially vulnerable to targeted attacks, as are many industries that have lots of remote workers. Some of the cyber threats companies face during the pandemic range from coronavirus phishing scams to an increase in insider attacks. 

Most malware or cyberattacks are motivated by the possibility of financial gains from the sale of data on the dark web.

Employees who risk losing their job due to Covid-19 may be desperate to generate some cash, and it’s easy to target an employer who is already struggling to survive.

Empty and unused business premises can mean unattended networks or servers, and the shift to cloud and mobile computing often means greater freedom of access for all parties. 


Student Girl In Headphones Playing Game On PC At Home


The Role of AI in Prevention

Early detection of threats is one way AI can keep companies safe from the risks of the cyberworld. 

By using AI to monitor and analyze large datasets, security teams can determine the parameters for both normal and abnormal behaviors. For example:

  • Flagged or abnormal login efforts can require additional authentication, which could result in denying unauthorized user access. A 2019 survey by Capgemini shows 51% of companies already use AI this way, so it’s a practical first step.
  • A User and Entity Behavioral Analytic system (UEBA) also uses abnormal behaviors to spot when hackers get into the system. Anyone who behaves differently than usual gets flagged. 
  • Downloading large amounts of data or connecting to unauthorized websites are some ways intellectual capital can be compromised. The UEBA can flag such events and block the threat at its source. 
  • Developers also use biometric identification methods such as DNA matching, iris, and vein recognition, and behavioral tracking. These help to determine whether a user is authorized to perform certain actions. If not, the AI can shut down the system and notify an administrator.

AI can also prevent some cybersecurity threats by using data about different types of malware to identify code from previous attacks. 

Machine learning enables AI to keep up with minuscule changes in tactics. It can also handle a huge volume of cyber threats that would completely overwhelm human security teams. 

AI’s Responses to Cyber Attacks

Prevention is always better than cure, but responding after the fact is important, whether an attack occurred or was just a threat. 

In some instances, companies might not even be aware of an attempted or actual attack, but AI monitoring produces reports that keep management informed. 

A primary benefit of using AI and machine learning to monitor threats is that it loses little time between identifying the problem and reacting to it. This reduces the damage and disruption to businesses. 

AI can automate a whole slew of functions without relying on humans to activate defenses. Computers are also not subject to taking the “short cuts” humans do, which can lead to potential security issues. 

Disadvantages of AI in Cybersecurity

Few things in life are flawless, and AI is no exception. It can be programmed incorrectly or base decisions on bad inputs. That means there’s still a role for humans to oversee the process. 

Most cyberattacks are steered by humans, so we must retain the creativity we need to fight fire with fire. 

We know there are also many potentially malicious opportunities for bad actors to use AI, some of which are highlighted in this 2018 Malicious AI Report. 

When taking a glass-half-full approach, it’s clear the value of AI in helping to prevent and address cybersecurity threats will be invaluable in the hybrid workplace of the future. 

AI Tools You Can Use

Here are some AI companies and products operating in the cybersecurity space and what they can do for you.

Targeted Attack Analytics: This tool uncovers any abnormal activities at each endpoint. It applies AI and machine learning to the data to find out whether actions show suspect activity. The tool is offered to customers who use Symantec’s Advanced Threat Protection.

Cognito: This open, vendor-neutral platform by Vectra uses behavioral detection algorithms to gather data across the system. It analyzes the information in real time to weed out and block suspicious patterns before they can do damage.

Intercept X Endpoint: Developed by Sophos, this tool uses powerful querying capabilities for malware detection and threat hunting. The company also offers a 24/7 managed threat response option for addressing any findings.

Darktrace’s Antigena: This network is the only solution that can stop in-progress attacks in seconds. Users can control it using a mobile app, and users can enable different aspects of it for high-risk employees and devices.

QRadar Advisor A flagship tool from IBM, QRadar can gather actionable insights very quickly. These enable it to see everything on on-premise and cloud-based environments, detect threats, and apply AI to reduce the risk.

ThreatCop   This tool assesses real-time threats by launching dummy attacks on employees in the workplace, the goal is to secure the workplace against, vishing, scams, ransomware, smishing, phishing, and more. Companies can train employees, assess employee vulnerability levels, and analyze results.

These are just a small number of the multitude of useful AI tools that you can use to reduce cybersecurity threats in your business.

By Tracey Stepanchuk and Audrey DeSisto

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