Does Artificial Intelligence Pose A Threat To Cyber Security?

Artificial intelligence is advancing at a rapid rate, but what does that mean for online security?
Cyber security is not just a hot topic for those working in government, business, and technology, it’s an essential topic for anyone with a network to protect in the internet era. The sheer amount of work and communication that people carry out in online networks and connected devices means there is an ever-increasing number of vulnerable spots for hackers or bad actors to exploit. The implications of failing to adequately ensure that an organization’s cyber security practices are up to par are numerous, and can have wide ranging consequences for its employees and stakeholders.
Indeed, it’s estimated that 90% of companies have been a victim of some kind of cyber attack, accounting for a revenue loss of almost $400 billion annually. It should therefore come as no surprise that people in the security world are looking into every possible avenue when it comes to the best ways to implement cyber security in a meaningful and effective way, and to stay several steps ahead of hackers looking to exploit weaknesses.
One of the more novel mechanisms to arise is the integration of cyber security with artificial intelligence, or the “development of systems and software capable of acting intelligently, and doing things that would normally be done by people – equally as well, or sometimes better.” Because AI can ingest and sort through vast amounts of data without getting tired or losing its efficacy, it can help human security analysts weed out the real threats from the severe ones and, depending on how it’s used, provide a first line of defense for vulnerable systems.
In many cases, the speed with which an organization or company responds to a cyber security breach is the biggest indicator of how debilitating the effects will be. If a hacker has free rein to lurk within a server for hours or days without being detected, the damage they can do is often far more severe than if they are detected within minutes of a breach. In this way, AI can be very effective at providing a real-time response. As the blog CybeRisk put it, “With a ‘thinking machine’, rapid response could be written into its DNA. Algorithms dedicated to spotting potential threats could be implemented in real time, to give a moment by moment response to an attack.”
So what examples do we have of AI being used in the cyber security space? Here are some examples of startups that are already creating systems which can offer this kind of capability:
Darktrace: The inventor of “Enterprise Immune System” technology, Darktrace is a leader in the AI and cyber security space for its technology which spots slight deviations in a network that could potentially be malicious. Its system is already being used in a range of sectors including utility provision, financial services, telecomms, manufacturing and transportation.
Vectra Networks: Vectra is designed for companies who don’t have the infrastructure to invest in an in-house security system. It automatically detects threats and advises company managers which attacks to prioritize according to which ones pose the highest risk.
Fortscale: Fortscale uses AI to monitor the behavior of in-house employees and internal actors who might be looking to hack a system from within. Whether it is a rogue employee or a hacker who has stolen company credentials, the threat is located and prioritized by big data analytics and advanced machine learning.
Deep Instinct: One of the only companies utilizing what is called “deep learning”—which is predictive rather than reactive—Deep Instinct provides real-time on-device protection. It safeguards the entry and endpoints of an organization’s network as well as any mobile devices associated with it.