What is the impact of AI on cybersecurity?
In today's technology-driven world we are becoming increasingly dependent on various technological tools to help us finish everyday tasks much faster or even do them for us, artificial intelligence being the most advanced one. While some welcome it open-handed, others are more wary, urging for increased protection.
We cannot deny how much AI has infiltrated our lives. We are surrounded by it every day, which many don't even realize. Some of its simplest forms are virtual assistants (VA) used by 72% of the consumers in the USA. AI is advancing super-fast, causing serious ethical discussions.
Not long ago some of the world's most brilliant minds like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have warned about the possible ramifications if the development of artificial intelligence wasn't controlled. Hawking even stated that AI could be the worst event in the history of our civilization. But whether we like it or not, the dominance of autonomous technology is inevitable.
Security in the first place
When it comes to cybersecurity, companies are spending huge amounts of money on maximizing its efficiency, in the face of the continually growing rates of cybercrime (up by 11% since last year). It's not surprising since the average cost of cybercrime has increased to $13 million, with average 145 security breaches in 2019, and counting.
Companies should not worry only about losing money and their own sensitive data, but about losing their customers as well. An IBM poll showed that 78% of respondents think that the company's ability to safeguard their private data is 'extremely' important, while 75% would not buy any of their products, no matter how great they are, if they don ́t believe they are able to protect their data.
Due to a huge shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals, with almost 3 million open positions, companies are more and more turning to implement AI into their cybersecurity protection systems. It is expected that by 2024 AI cybersecurity market will reach a staggering $35 billion, with businesses recognizing the need to implement an advanced technology which will keep pace with the fast-evolving cybercrime.
But how safe is AI?
While AI can contribute to an increased level of cyber protection, by assisting cybersecurity experts in reducing their workload and in time, with their learning algorithms, by adapting and detecting new threats much faster (today it takes more than half a year in average to detect a data breach), there is also the other side of the coin to consider.
Just as cybercriminals can manipulate people to obtain sensitive information, they can do the same with artificial intelligence, taking spear-fishing to a whole new level. This represents a serious concern, with a vast majority (91%) of US and Japan professionals expecting that companies' AI will be used against them. The same applies to VAs, which record and store everything we say (personal information, business-related information, passwords, financial information…) which can be obtained by hackers.
Detecting new vulnerabilities can become much easier with AI, while their ability to make independent decisions can be compromised, which can stay undetected for a while. This represents a huge potential for cybercriminals to launch massive attacks in disguise, especially if they use their own AIs to make these attacks more sophisticated or to build new types of malware. Another concern is that with an AI cybersecurity protection system in place, employees might fall into a false sense of security, thus becoming less cautious.
With AI inevitably becoming an integral part of business protection systems worldwide, it is important to consider all of its aspects when introducing it, both good and bad.
With companies investing huge resources in their perfection, cybersecurity experts should simultaneously focus on minimizing any possibilities of AI being exploited by cybercriminals.