The Use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Cybersecurity

When the words artificial intelligence (AI) and cybersecurity are mentioned in the same sentence, you wouldn’t be alone if your mind immediately went to a dystopian future where humans are enslaved to superior machines. However, the more likely reality is a world where technology is used for good and AI ensures future cyberthreats are thwarted before they cause widespread disruption.

How Cybercriminals Use Technology to Their Advantage

While AI and machine learning are contributing to incredible innovations in everything from homeland security to technology to health care, cybercriminals can also leverage them to make their hacks, breaches, and attacks more sophisticated. Cybersecurity professionals must be vigilant of these cyber risks to stay one step ahead of threats.

Using AI and machine learning, cybercriminals are evolving malware, ransomware, phishing and other threats to make them even more sophisticated and problematic. For example, machine learning enables the collection of information about companies and individuals to create more authentic social engineering and spoofing tactics to trick users into sharing personal details or allowing unauthorized access. Another use of AI that can be used for nefarious purposes involves bots and automation, where algorithms can be written to coordinate attacks, making them more destructive.

Using AI and Machine Learning to Stay Ahead of Cyberthreats

The AI you create is only as good as the data it ingests and learns from. In the case of cybersecurity threats, the more quality, data-rich and structured sources, the better. With machine learning, the system uses AI to become increasingly efficient in learning to differentiate the good bots from the bad, tracking changes in behavior, identifying patterns of authentic messages, and the telltale signatures of phishing emails and other threats.

A cyberattack is estimated to occur every 39 seconds, so one of the main benefits of AI is its ability to reduce tedious tasks for humans in order to respond to the scale of the problem. Through the application of AI, many companies have been able to streamline their operations and allow their staff to engage in more meaningful work. Take for instance the banking sector, where AI has enabled faster transactions and allowed staff to focus more on the customer experience. For cybersecurity, this means the more routine or mundane tasks are handled by machines and cybersecurity firms have more time to foil the next attack.

AI also removes the element of human error that is likely to occur. The goal is to supplement AI applications for better-informed decision-making and not to replace entire occupations. Think about radiology and air traffic control and how AI and machine learning can help these two highly complex activities. For both professions, we will always want humans in charge. However, AI-powered decision-making uses vast amounts of data to produce more informed recommendations, whereas a single person’s oversight or mistake could carry lethal consequences.

Lastly, AI never sleeps. This means that cybersecurity providers can maintain protection around the clock and at peak performance — without the need for a break. As the level of threats evolves, so can the systems created to fight them.

AI and machine learning have the potential to positively impact cybersecurity. This is achievable but companies must be willing to stay up-to-speed on the latest trends in cybersecurity, embrace new ways of working, and improve the quality of data that is ingested by machines. The Institute for Defense and Business offers the IU-IDB Cyber Risk Management Program in a National Security Context course to introduce participants to the multifaceted strategic cyber risks facing the public and private sectors in the United States. After successfully completing the course, you will be familiar with cybersecurity best practices designed to manage your cyber risk exposure and also gain a foundational understanding of U.S. cybersecurity law and policy.

About The Institute for Defense and Business

The Institute for Defense and Business (IDB) delivers educational programs and research to teach, challenge and inspire leaders who work with and within the defense enterprise to achieve next-level results for their organization. IDB features curriculum in Logistics, Supply Chain and Life Cycle Management, Complex Industrial Leadership, Strategic Studies, Global Business and Defense Studies, Continuous Process Improvement, and Stabilization and Economic Reconstruction. Visit www.IDB.org or contact us on our website for more information.