As cyberattacks become more sophisticated, AI in cybersecurity will be essential. Today, we’re covering some of the ways that AI can improve business security.
Now more than ever, cybersecurity is essential to operating a business of any size. In 2022, the number of attempted cyber attacks rose by 38%. If just one attack is successful, the fallout can be disastrous. Even for mid-sized organizations, the average data breach cost is $2.98 million. For larger enterprises, that figure balloons to more than $5 million.
Luckily, artificial intelligence (AI) advances have made sophisticated threat detection and prevention more accessible than ever. AI-backed software and strategies can significantly improve organizational security while freeing resources for more proactive initiatives and issues that require human review.
Unfortunately, the AI revolution cuts both ways. Cybercriminals can use AI technology to identify system weaknesses, craft natural-sounding emails, and even write new malware. It may sound like a sci-fi concept, but fighting AI with AI is the only way to protect your data and employees from these ever-changing threats.
With that in mind, here are four ways to harness AI in cybersecurity and keep your organization safe.
1. Identifying Threats
One of the most promising features of AI for cybersecurity is its ability to learn and detect new patterns. Humans and traditional security software solutions can no longer keep up with the barrage of threats cybercriminals unleash, especially as IT infrastructure becomes more complex and extensive.
On the other hand, AI can be specifically trained to look for abnormalities that would otherwise evade detection. Using AI and machine learning (ML), advanced security solutions can identify all kinds of attempted attacks, including never-before-seen tactics.
Here are some of the ways to use AI for threat identification.
Intrusion Detection Systems (IDSs)
Also known as intrusion prevention systems (IPSs), IDSs capture and analyze network packets, monitoring system traffic and warning administrators of attempted or successful attacks. While IDSs have been a threat detection staple for some time, a standard IDS has limitations.
Like many longstanding security solutions, IDS have largely been rule-based, following predetermined instructions that only account for known threats.
As such, unknown threats remain a security concern. That’s where AI comes in. By leveraging deep learning (a more advanced form of machine learning), IDSs can make sense of patterns and anomalies to identify previously unknown attacks. Rather than simply following rules, AI-powered IDSs can use new information to make human-like decisions in milliseconds.
Natural Language Understanding (NLU)
Threat actors can take countless avenues to breach your defenses, but email remains one of the most likely entry points. Email threats have one thing in common: They use written language to convince the recipient to take action.
Humans are reasonably effective at analyzing incoming emails for signs of phishing and fraud, but mistakes can happen—especially when schedules and inboxes fill up. AI with natural language understanding (NLU) technology provides an extra layer of protection, quickly scanning emails for linguistic indicators of malicious intent.
NLU can identify threats using several strategies, including:
- Language analysis – By looking for commonly used keywords and phrases, AI-based systems can flag potential phishing attempts to users.
- Content analysis – Beyond the body of the email, NLU can analyze the sender’s email address and the header for typical phishing patterns.
- Sentiment analysis – NLU technology can also infer tone and notify users of known attack strategies, such as creating a sense of urgency or fear.
2. Responding to Threats
AI-based cybersecurity can help your organization identify threats, but it can also handle them once discovered. Depending on the situation and the scale of the attack, AI can automatically:
- Isolate affected systems
- Block malicious activities and traffic
- Deploy countermeasures
Although automated responses to threats can be highly beneficial, there are times when a human touch is critical. In these cases, AI can process all available information and provide tailor-made suggestions—and do it much faster than a team of seasoned IT experts.
Let’s take a closer look at these AI-powered threat response possibilities.
Automated Email Remediation
As mentioned, email security solutions with AI capabilities can leverage NLU to identify malicious content and alert the user. However, this technology can go one step further, automatically moving suspicious emails to an abuse mailbox or deleting them altogether—even ones that escape traditional spam filters.
AI solutions completely remove the possibility of a costly mistake by quarantining potential threats before they reach employees.
Along with keeping your organization safer, this application of AI also frees up time for your security teams. For example, abuse mailbox remediation can be one of IT personnel's most repetitive, time-consuming tasks. Automating this process with an ever-learning AI algorithm allows your security experts to focus on more pressing or proactive measures.
AI-backed solutions can also act as “cybersecurity consultants.” When your business encounters an attempted or successful cyber attack, AI can use its understanding of your systems to formulate an action plan.
When appropriate, an AI security solution may suggest you:
- Reset user credentials
- Perform an update to patch vulnerabilities
- Disable remote access
Of course, your team of seasoned security professionals can already make these suggestions. But AI can make them faster—and when every second counts, speed is invaluable.
3. Employing Vulnerability Scanning and Management
The same technology that provides suggestions after identifying a threat can also help improve your cybersecurity when you’re not under attack.
Scanning for flaws and weaknesses in your software and systems helps you stay one step ahead of cybercriminals. However, many organizations don’t have the resources to perform a full manual vulnerability scan as often as they should.
An AI-powered solution can run continuously in the background, searching for vulnerabilities across all devices and networks before cross-checking them with a database of known issues.
Additionally, AI can examine historical data—from your organization and others—to make recommendations for vulnerability management that may have escaped attention. This idea of “breach risk prediction” can protect you from attacks before they happen.
4. Maintaining Compliance Monitoring and Management
Cyberattacks usually come from external sources -- but even employees can create situations that lead to breaches. Failure to comply with regulatory requirements around data management and other risks can lead to hefty fines, especially in highly-regulated industries like banking, healthcare, and insurance.
Natural language processing (the branch of AI that includes NLU) can monitor your systems and communications, ensuring your organization stays within regulatory guidelines. However, AI language tools aren’t the only option for monitoring compliance.
User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA)
UEBA is a cybersecurity approach that can help identify insider threats like policy violations and abuse of privilege. Using machine learning algorithms and behavioral analytics, UEBA works by constantly tracking your organization’s:
- User accounts
- Internet of Things (IoT) devices
By monitoring these entities, UEBA determines the “baseline behavior” for your staff and devices. If one of these entities veers from what’s considered normal, an alert with a risk score goes out to security personnel. This AI-generated risk score helps your team prioritize which threats to tackle first while creating a log of all potential issues and reducing false positives.
Make AI Part of Your Cybersecurity Strategy With Armorblox
Artificial intelligence has been championed for years as a solution that will revolutionize how we do business. That promise is finally coming true, especially as the public interacts more with AI through tools like ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Bing chatbot.
But while all aspects of business may eventually feel the impact of AI, cybersecurity has already begun its transformation. At Armorblox, we’ve been leveraging the power of AI for years to help our customers easily identify, categorize, and remediate email threats and prevent data loss. Our advanced email security solution uses the same language models as ChatGPT, and our constant innovations have led to a future-proof approach to security.
AI hasn’t completely replaced human professionals, but it is essential to the modern cybersecurity landscape. To find out why, take a quick product tour.