ai cybersecurity

How Will AI Affect The Future of Cyber Security

Last updated on May 9, 2021

Entering the new decade, there is the promise of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI, ML) applications accelerate according to business analysts and technology experts. So, what does that mean for cybersecurity in 2020? AI looks to be both a blessing and a curse to cybersecurity, businesses, users, and cybercriminals alike.

AI technology is what afforded us with speech recognition technology, with one of the best-known examples being Siri. Additionally, Facebook’s facial recognition software and Google’s search engine are all thanks to AI technology. There are even some credit companies which are looking to AI in order to help prevent billions of dollars of fraud, which happens on an annual basis.

While AI is beneficial to cybersecurity as it greatly improves how security experts analyze and understand cybercrime, on the other hand, artificial intelligence can also serve as a weapon in the arsenal of cybercriminals looking to use the technology to advance their cyberattacks.

How AI Cyber Security Measures Advance Digital Security

Instant Identification of Security Threats

Many modern businesses will have a variety of levels of protection in place including things like application, network, endpoint, and data security measures. This might mean there are both software and hardware firewalls as well as other network security solutions that are able to track and determine the network connections that need to be blocked and the ones which are allowed. Should hackers make it past this point, they will have to put up a fight against antivirus and malware solutions.

So, what happens when hackers are able to get past all of these security parameters? Users have to work instantly to identify threats straight away regardless of business hours or holidays. Artificial intelligence in cybersecurity works round the clock to protect users, allowing it to take just seconds to respond to attacks that would otherwise take humans minutes, days, or even months to identify.

According to a report by Capgemini, AI-enabled security is increasingly necessary.

“Global business internet traffic is expected to increase three-fold from 2017 to 20223. Cyber analysts are finding it increasingly difficult to effectively monitor current levels of data volume, velocity, and variety across firewalls. Signature-based cybersecurity solutions are unlikely to deliver the requisite performance to detect new attack vectors. In fact, our data shows that 61% of organizations acknowledge that they will not be able to identify critical threats without AI. The increases in cyber attacks that can quickly compromise critical operations within an enterprise also require enhanced capabilities that can best be provided through AI.”

Lowering Costs to Detect and Respond to Breaches

The use of AI in cybersecurity can not only help broaden existing cybersecurity solutions but also makes way for the creation of completely new protection. The use of artificial intelligence in cybersecurity also allows organizations to understand threat patterns easily and identify new ones, leading to a reduction in time as well as efforts to identify any incidents, investigate them and remedy them.

‘Close to two-thirds of executives (64%) say that AI lowers the cost to detect and respond to breaches. The reduction in cost for a majority of organizations ranges from 1% – 15% (with an average of 12%). However, a few organizations have managed to achieve even higher cost reductions (more than 15%) leading to higher benefits (see Figure 4). “AI offers huge opportunities for cybersecurity,” says Oliver Scherer, CISO of Europe’s leading consumer electronics retailer, MediaMarktSaturn Retail Group. “This is because you move from detection, manual reaction and remediation towards an automated remediation, which organizations would like to achieve in the next three or five years.”’

AI Allows for Higher Efficiency When it Comes to Analyzing Cyber Attacks

Cyber analysts take a lot of time going through data logs as well as incident reports. As AI helps carry that workload, the tech experts are able to allocate more of their time in analyzing incidents that are identified by artificial intelligence cybersecurity algorithms.

‘Half of organizations say that hiring for AI in cybersecurity is a high priority in their organization. However, talent is scarce in the cybersecurity field as a whole, and AI can help close the talent gap. “Cybersecurity will require a significant workforce with deep domain knowledge,” says Agustin Valencia, head of OT cybersecurity for Iberdrola, a Spanish electric utility. “AI will support analysts in matching the dots, using good data to analyze the potential threat,” he says.’

Password Protection

When it comes to security, passwords are always one of the biggest attack points of cybercriminals. Truth be told, many of us are far too lazy when it comes to setting passwords, often using the same one with multiple accounts, and keeping them far too simple. With the help of AI, we can get around this issue and help protect accounts across the board.

Developers are using AI to enhance biometric authentication and get rid of its imperfections to make it a reliable system. Apple’s face recognition technology, used on its iPhone X devices, is one example. Called ‘Face ID,’ the technology works by processing the user’s facial features through built-in infra-red sensors and neural engines. The AI software creates a sophisticated model of the user’s face by identifying key correlations and patterns. Apple claims that, with this technology, there’s only a one-in-a-million chance of fooling the AI and opening your device with another face. The AI software architecture can also work in different lighting conditions and compensate for changes like getting a new hairstyle, growing facial hair, wearing a hat, etc.

Better Phishing Detection with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

As one of the biggest cyber threats out there, phishing attacks work by hackers attempting to deliver their payload using a phishing attack. Phishing emails are becoming incredibly common, with as many as one in every 99 being a phishing attempt. Luckily, we can look to artificial intelligence and machine learning to fight against these phishing attacks with better detection.

“AI-ML can detect and track more than 10,000 active phishing sources and react and remediate much quicker than humans can. Also, AI-ML works at scanning phishing threats from all over the world, and there is no restriction of its understanding of phishing campaigns to any specific geographical area. AI has made it possible to differentiate between a fake website and a legitimate one quickly.”

The Dangers of Using Artificial Intelligence in Cyber Security

Human Complacency

One of the biggest problems, but also one that is less acknowledged is the risk of human complacency when it comes to artificial intelligence. When a company adopts artificial intelligence and machine learning to their cybersecurity management, there is a risk of employers lowering their guard and missing threats which would have otherwise been caught.

“Even with automation, there still needs to be human oversight. Automating patching or change provisioning bring their specific risks to the equation that must be weighed against the reward of any potential time-savings. Considering errors that could be compounded via automated action and the potential for business disruption, a human element in these execution processes may still be best.”

Artificial Intelligence Costs Money

The fact is AI systems require a huge amount of resources including that of memory, data, as well as computing power. Due to AI systems using data sets for training, cybersecurity firms have to have many different data sets including malware codes, anomalies, and non-malicious codes. Getting their hands on this type of data takes a lot of time as well as resources which a lot of companies will not be able to afford.

“In 2020, companies can pay anywhere from $0 to more than $300,000 for AI software. This software can range from a solution provided by a third-party to a custom platform developed by a team of in-house or freelance data scientists.”

Hackers Can Use Artificial Intelligence Against You

A huge risk of using artificial intelligence in cybersecurity is that it can be used by hackers against the user. Hackers are able to acquire AI cybersecurity solutions and use them to test their malicious programs against artificial intelligence, this is where they could create AI proof malware. Cybercriminals are also able to use machine learning in order to better understand what it is artificial intelligence is looking for. With that information is much simpler for them to disguise their attacks or make their viruses seem benign.

“Expect to see attempts to poison the algorithm with specious data samples specifically designed to throw off the learning process of a machine learning algorithm,” says Haiyan Song, senior vice president and general manager of security markets for Splunk. “It’s not just about duping smart technology, but making it so that the algorithm appears to work fine – while producing the wrong results.”

What we Can Expect from Cyber Security in 2020

There are a number of things we can look forward to and keep an eye out for in 2020 in terms of cybersecurity.

A Rise in AI Security

The use of artificial intelligence will be on the rise in 2020 as the benefits of this type of security outweigh the negatives. According to Forbes,

“AI is going to be HUGE in 2020. And by huge, I mean that a lot of vendors will claim they are using AI—ranging from using simple linear regressions, up through using deep learning. While linear regression is pretty far from AI, we might trust those vendors more to deliver a working product than many who use deep learning techniques as the entirety of their solution. What we’ll see in many spaces is folks starting to understand the limitations of algorithmic solutions, especially where those create, amplify, or ossify bias in the world; and companies buying technologies will really need to start understanding how that bias impacts their operations.”—Andy Ellis, Chief Security Officer, Akamai.


This is just one of the ways that hackers will be able to get around malware evasion techniques.

Some tech experts also believe that 2020 might be the year where the first malware using AI-models to evade sandboxes might be used and maybe even to influence elections. There is also considerable debate as to whether there will be advancements in the use of deepfake voice technology. Employers might be lured to reveal sensitive information after receiving voice messages or calls sounding as though they come from company executives.

“As many have feared, in 2020 we’ll see the first malicious use of Deepfakes and other forms of synthetic media with the aim of influencing the Presidential election, though these efforts will largely fall flat (though there will be at least one attempt that does initially cause a good deal of outrage). This will be due to a combination of greater awareness by the general public of the need to be more skeptical of video evidence circulating online, combined with publishers and social platforms employing detection tools like Deeptrace to help them identify Deepfakes and blunt their impact.”—Peter Rojas, Partner, Betaworks Ventures.

Automated Real-time Response to Cyber Threats

With automated attack tools used to massively increase the volume of data that must be processed by security teams, there will be an increase in the use of artificial intelligence in cybersecurity so that tech analysts can get to mission-based activities. This is good news as customers have little to no time to waste when it comes to protecting their own businesses.

“One of the most significant challenges that IT professionals continue to face is maintaining the environments they are responsible for and ensuring that those environments consistently deliver the business-critical solutions that their organization requires. Customers no longer tolerate downtime, let alone data breaches. In 2020, we’ll see more organizations using AI and predictive proactive management to better anticipate, safeguard and prevent potential threat vectors ahead of time.”—Ken Galvin, Senior Product Manager, Quest Software

The Introduction of 5G on National Infrastructure

There are a lot of major 5G network deployments that are expected to hit in 2020. This type of technology will generate huge opportunities for many industries, but at the same time will also allow for bigger threats in terms of cybersecurity. This will mean more bandwidth for users as well as faster speeds around the globe. It also means that there will be more DDoS attacks. Although mobile devices have mostly been targeted by financial or personal data attacks, the fact that 5G comes with increased bandwidth also means that cybercriminals will be able to take control of mobile phones and unleash a lot of harm. Using apps as platforms to distribute attacks, tech experts say that it will take just a few hundred dollars to create an innocent-looking app that can cause major damage.

“As the availability and reliability of 5G slowly rolls out, new cybersecurity challenges will emerge as opportunistic hackers look to profit off of the proliferation of IoT data. In the impending 5G enabled world, attack surfaces will be larger than they’ve ever been before, providing more opportunities for consumers and businesses to be hacked. In addition, ultra-high bandwidth will empower criminals to launch much larger botnet and DDoS attacks that could cripple entire enterprise networks. With attackers conducting cyber warfare in ‘low and slow’ stealth mode, having a granular and comprehensively sufficient data set to detect breaches will be imperative.”—Michael Rezek, VP Cybersecurity Strategy, Accedian

Conclusion to AI Cybersecurity

There are plenty of positive aspects of using AI in cybersecurity. Threats will no longer be able to slip through the cracks due to fatigue or even boredom, with cyber professionals being free to do more tasks like remediation. It is also possible to use artificial intelligence in order to increase visibility across the network and help spot phishing scams byways of simulating clicking on email links and also analyzing grammar and word choices.

AI also has the ability to monitor network communications and look for any attempts of installed malware as well as the presence of any suspicious packets. Artificial intelligence in cybersecurity has helped evolve virus detection through to behavioral analysis which is able to detect zero-day exploits, signature malware, and formerly unknown threats.

On the other hand, businesses will have to allocate much higher budgets for AI technology to be effective, and cannot afford for their employers to become complacent with the introduction of AI technology in their cybersecurity strategy.

Lastly, AI technology will also be used by the criminals that companies and users alike are attempting to protect themselves from. With the introduction of 5G technology in 2020 leading to increased bandwidth, the stakes are much higher.

One thing is for sure, this new decade brings with it many advancements in technology, especially in terms of AI cybersecurity. There are many things to look forward to, but also to be cautious of. Whatever the case, we cannot wait to see how AI cybersecurity will affect people in 2020.

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