Nicola Brown, sales director at Central Network and Technologies, discusses the rising threat of cyber attacks and the crucial role that AI can play in preventing malicious attacks
Cyber threats are rapidly evolving and changing, as digital criminals continually level up to find vulnerabilities in the latest tools and technologies put in place to prevent attacks.
In 2020, there was a 130% increase in ransomware attacks alone — costing the global economy over $1 trillion — as the pandemic offered further opportunities to cyber criminals looking to take advantage of a world in crisis.
Traditional cyber security protection is based upon known threats, and readily made solutions to prevent them. But, what can an organisation do when it is continually faced with novel attacks?
Security teams often end up overwhelmed and unable to keep up. They are also simply outpaced when it comes to machine-speed attacks, such as ransomware, where they are unable to respond quickly enough due to a lack of resource.
Where can AI play a part?
This is where artificial intelligence — i.e. machine self-learning — comes into play. Deploying systems that span entire organisations, with the ability to learn what is normal and what is abnormal, means that the solution is not based on assumptions of what malicious is.
In this way, AI can mimic the human immune system, and just as immunity is unique to individuals, the technology becomes exclusive to each organisation. It can quickly identify unusual behaviour and identify potential threats as they emerge.
Continuing in this vein, firewalls act like the skin – a protective barrier against known threats – but it is not infallible and things can get past it, and that is where artificial intelligence plays a crucial role.
Often, these AI systems are left unsupervised to build up a ‘pattern of life’ at a very granular level – monitoring every user, piece of technology, and system within an organisation. Once this detailed picture is built, it can then very quickly identify when something deviates from this pattern, signalling threatening activity.
This is impossible for security analysts to do alone, but is designed to work in tandem with them to prevent malicious attacks.
How can AI save time and costs?
Taking this even further, current technology is able to investigate and triage potential threats, helping to make quick decisions to create incident reports. Research by Darktrace estimates a 92% reduction in the time taken to triage incidents when using this type of platform – meaning that security teams are able to focus their time on higher priority tasks.
Can AI fight back?
Autonomous response by self-learning systems is now entirely possible. Systems in place can generate a surgical and proportionate reaction to interrupt emerging threats, without impacting on day-to-day business operations.
“AI can mimic the human immune system – it can quickly identify unusual behaviour and identify potential threats as they emerge”
Due to the self-learning capabilities, where the technology can identify what is normal and what isn’t, it can then detect, triage and neutralise cyber-attacks across cloud, network, and email – allowing teams to concentrate on the long-term security strategy.
So, what’s next?
With cyber threats continuing to progress at pace, organisations must look to artificial intelligence to protect their IT infrastructure and, ultimately, their business.
Loss of control of data or systems can often be a corporate death sentence for firms that are not properly equipped to deal with such incidents.
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