For Cybersecurity Awareness Month this year, we're taking a look at the past and future of cybersecurity. Today we wrap up by exploring the roles that AI and machine learning will be playing in cybersecurity in the coming years.
In the near future, cyber attacks could be detected and prevented without any human intervention whatsoever. But they could also be launched in very much the same way.
The future is already here
AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning are data-driven approaches to make decisions with no explicit programming involved. Using a set of data and an algorithm, a computer can be taught to perform a task and make choices on its own, all without any human intervention.
Although these concepts may sound like the stuff NASA would use to send humans to the moon, they can already be found in several facets of our day-to-day lives. Virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa are all built on AI, and the ability of services like Spotify to offer you personalized recommendations is only possible thanks to machine learning.
A new weapon
As nifty as personalized music recommendations are, it's in the world of cybersecurity where this incredible ability to automate processes and perform them at superhuman speed can truly be a game-changer, and perhaps even a life-saver.
One of the ways AI can be leveraged for cybersecurity is malware-detection. Traditionally, antivirus software could only detect previously identified malware, which is a problem, due to the fact that malware attacks are constantly evolving. An AI-powered system could not only detect known malware, but also analyze data from previous attacks and be prepared for potential attacks that could be executed in a similar vein.
Another way would be network monitoring. AI could be used to track what each user on a network does on a daily basis and build a unique picture of their typical behavior. In the event that an employee clicks on a phishing link for example, the AI would pick up on certain anomalies or abnormalities in their online behavior and react accordingly.
Unfortunately, AI and machine learning technology could just as effectively be used by cybercriminals to optimize their attacks. Imagine automated malware, ransomware, social engineering, or phishing attacks that continually analyze results, learn from that data, and then accordingly mutate and become harder to detect.
There's no doubt that an AI-arms race is on the horizon and providers of cybersecurity services will need to adopt this technology to keep up. We at MYKI are already working on incorporating machine learning into what we do, though you'll be finding out much more about that in the future.
If there's one lesson to be learned from this month's "Cybersecurity Awareness Month" blog posts, it's that with each new technological advancement, there will always be those looking to abuse it for personal gain at the expense of others, whether it's big businesses they're going after, or average users like you and I.
It's an endless struggle, but it doesn't have to be a futile one. If we can learn from the mistakes of the past, and educate ourselves on the threats of the present, we can all protect ourselves and our data, no matter what the future has in store for us.