Posted on February 10, 2023.

With the mainstream popularity of generative AI products like Midjourney and ChatGPT, more people are seeing just how powerful artificial intelligence can be.

Software can process information and evolve with greater speed and accuracy than ever before. It’s now possible to train sophisticated algorithms on massive amounts of data, and the result is applications that can create realistic photos, compose poetry and write code.

The advent of artificial intelligence has already had a substantial impact on the world of cybersecurity. It has accelerated the cat-and-mouse game between cybercriminals and security teams. Threats have become more sophisticated and harder to detect, and security teams are now using techniques that leverage AI to respond to those threats.

The stakes are high, and firms have been willing to invest whatever it takes to win this arms race. According to Acumen Research, the global market for AI-based cybersecurity products is estimated to reach $133.8 billion by 2030, up ten times from 2021.

What actually is ‘AI’?

The term “AI” is used to refer to a wide range of technologies that use data and algorithms to simulate human intelligence. Artificial intelligence can range from simple algorithms that recognize patterns in data to more complex ones that can learn and adjust their behavior.

AI technology can be applied to automated decision-making, natural language processing, image recognition, cybersecurity and many other tasks.

Machine learning is one of the most prominent and popular types of AI. It involves the use of algorithms to “learn” patterns in data, as well as to adapt their behavior based on that knowledge. This enables machines to become more adept at predicting outcomes and making informed decisions without needing human intervention.

How has AI accelerated cyber threats?

The COVID-19 pandemic forced much of the world to work remotely, which substantially increased the attack surface that cybercriminals can exploit. Collaboration now happens in the cloud, which is notoriously difficult to monitor and easy to misconfigure. A 2020 Gartner survey revealed that 80% of cloud data breaches can be traced back to simple human error.

AI allows cybercriminals to design malware that constantly changes its signatures and can avoid detection by static defenses and perimeter detection systems. This malware can breach cloud systems and silently collect data, up until it’s ready to transmit the information it has collected.

This is a reason why many companies have adopted a “zero trust” model, where defenses are set up to constantly challenge network traffic to verify it is not harmful.

Aside from malware, AI has already been used in sophisticated phishing attacks. Attackers can use stolen information and social media information to craft emails that appear to be from legitimate sources. AI-enabled phishing campaigns are also harder to detect, because the emails look more legitimate and can make it past basic filters.

Applications of AI technologies in cybersecurity

AI has the potential to detect, investigate and respond to cyber threats more quickly and effectively.

The most common application of AI in cybersecurity is anomaly detection. By leveraging machine learning algorithms, security systems can analyze large amounts of data and detect patterns that would be difficult for humans to detect. This can help alert security teams when malicious activity is identified, and can also be used to detect insider threats.

AI can also help with automated patching and vulnerability scanning, which are essential for maintaining a secure system. AI-based systems can analyze patch information and prioritize the most critical updates based on their potential impact. Additionally, AI-powered vulnerability scanners can quickly identify potential vulnerabilities in IT systems and networks, allowing security teams to respond before any damage is done.

Finally, AI can be used for automated incident response. AI-powered systems can be trained to detect malicious activity and take action without needing human intervention, such as quarantining a device or blocking suspicious IP addresses. This can help speed up the response time of security teams and reduce the impact of cyberattacks.

Get a checkup on your cybersecurity posture

AI technologies have the potential to revolutionize the world of cybersecurity, and their applications are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and widespread. Although AI can increase the complexity of some attacks and make them harder to detect, it also has great potential for enhancing security by automating mundane tasks and helping security teams respond faster to threats. Would you like to see how leveraging AI can help you modernize your IT infrastructure? Contact us today to find out more.