Why AI is Fundamental to the Future of Cybersecurity
Sun, April 18, 2021

Why AI is Fundamental to the Future of Cybersecurity

A report from Canalys showed that worldwide cybersecurity spending exceeded $10 billion for the first time in Q4 in 2018. / Photo by: NicoElNino via Shutterstock


A 2018 cybersecurity report by Cisco revealed that cyberhackers are getting smarter, creating more damage, and gaining more tools at their disposal. Cyber threats such as malware are sprouting up in new forms that are more difficult to find and can propagate at network speeds. Even the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming a significant threat vector. According to the report, many IoT devices are unmonitored and 60 percent of these are deployed by operational technology, not IT.

These threats mean that many people can get their private information seized. While it is understandable that the problem is rooted in the fact that we are facing an interconnected age, individuals and businesses must be protected. This is where cybersecurity comes into play.

A recent report from research firm Canalys showed that worldwide cybersecurity spending exceeded $10 billion for the first time in Q4 in 2018 and is expected to surpass $42 billion by 2020 on an annual basis. Total cybersecurity investment increased from $34 billion in 2017 to $37 billion in 2018. This is because many companies are increasing their level of protection against malicious threats and prioritizing their data assets, endpoints, networks, employees and customers. 

The report also projected that traditional deployment models will decline by 70 percent by 2020 due to emerging cybersecurity solutions. Canalys Principal Analyst Matthew Ball said, "Vendors will have to establish a diverse range of business models to support this transition, as different products suit different types of deployments. The key challenge to date for many has been making the new models more channel-centric, and integrating them with existing partner programs, especially customer transactions via cloud marketplaces.” 

Why AI Matters to Cybersecurity

Cyberattacks are extremely pervasive in nature, affecting individuals, businesses, and government bodies. Cybercriminals have been attempting to access, damage, or alter a user’s computer system or network in an unauthorized way. This systematic and calculated move not only damages computer networks and systems but also disrupts organizations and operations. With artificial intelligence, some of the issues with cyberattacks can be addressed.

One of the positive contributions of AI in cybersecurity is biometric logins. Companies used to use password, which made them prone to security breaches. With biometric logins, employees can secure logins by either scanning their fingerprints, retinas, or palm prints. 

Machine learning, a branch of AI, is effective in cyber threat detection. According to Entrepreneur, an American magazine and website that carries news stories about entrepreneurship, it enables computers and devices to predict threats and observe any anomalies with a lot more accuracy than any human can. 

AI and machine learning play a significant role in preventing and deterring phishing attacks. Phishing is considered one of the most commonly used cyber-attack methods. It was reported that 1 in every 99 emails is a phishing attack. These technologies can detect and track more than 10,000 active phishing sources. At the same time, they can address the attacks quicker than humans. AI and machine learning have also made it possible to differentiate between a fake website and a legitimate one quickly.

Managing cyber-attack vulnerabilities with human resources or traditional technology can be extremely difficult. Thus, the capability of AI to proactively look for potential vulnerabilities in organizational information systems instead of waiting for a vulnerability to be exploited is a huge step forward. AI does this by searching for the hackers’ discussions on the dark web, reputation of the hacker, patterns used, and more. After that, it analyzes the data and uses it to determine when and how the threat might make its way to vulnerable targets.


Phishing is considered one of the most commonly used cyber-attack methods. / Photo by: wk1003mike via Shutterstock


AI Can Also Be a Threat to Cybersecurity

Unfortunately, AI contributes to the growing problem of cyber attacks. According to the World Economic Forum, an international organization that engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas, it has the potential to attract even more attacks. AI enhances the abilities of hackers to preserve both their anonymity and distance from their victims.

Cybercriminals can also automate the most resource-intensive elements of their attacks through AI. For instance, AI can improve and enhance malware to potentially become AI-proof. According to CPO Magazine, an online site that provides news, insights, and resources on data privacy and cybersecurity, AI-proof malware can be extremely destructive as they can learn from existing AI tools. 

Today, there is more space for cyber attackers to explore and exploit. Through AI, they are given opportunities to interfere with critical business processes, affecting both internal decision-making and relationships with customers.

While the development of technology comes with great benefits, it has opened up new opportunities for hackers to thrive. Hackers can break into our phones, computers, and even cars, and know everything they need to know to invade our privacy. Now, it’s up to professionals to address the threats that these hackers pose and utilize the positive impacts of AI in cybersecurity.