Cisco Talos

By Sam Curry, Chief Security Officer, Cybereason



Artificial Intelligence is the latest technology to be seized by the technology hype machine, dominating the agenda for every industry from marketing to transport. This may be due in part to its role as a staple of science fiction for decades - something which sets it apart from other much-discussed topics such as Big Data Analytics.

The perfect vision for the future of AI in the security industry is the creation of an advanced system that can take care of everything for us, both detecting threats and complex decisions before we humans are even aware there was a threat. Not only would this AI need to be a bona fide simulated mind that can pass the Turing Test, it would also need to be a fully trained cyber security professional, capable of replicating the decisions made by the most experienced security engineer, but on a vast scale.

While we wait for this sudden breakthrough to occur, the current role of AI in security is to make our own human intelligence more effective in finding evidence of cyber attacks, seen through the application of machine learning.

A powerful machine learning-based tool will take care of the gargantuan task of analysing the vast piles of digital evidence involved in a data breach, breaking them down into the key data points that require human attention. Crucially, this means the security experts can focus purely on bringing their intuition and experience to bear, rather than wasting time tediously crunching data.

The obvious result for security firms – and for the organisations they are protecting – is that security teams are able to operate with a far higher level of efficiency. This means that evidence can be found and analysed more quickly, and crucially also enables teams to discover things they may have gone entirely unnoticed when left to human capabilities alone.

A persistent fear around any new technology is that it will steal jobs from humans. In the case of security however, this would be like saying spreadsheets have made accountants redundant. In fact, we currently see AI both creating more security jobs, and enhancing existing ones as it helps to make the field of security much more interesting and rewarding.

With the more tedious analysis out of the way, practitioners will have more free time to use and improve their skills. This means those who already have the security skillset can progress their abilities even further, while those lacking skills and experience will be able to learn them faster. Since each employee is now capable of achieving more, it also frees up more space and budget to hire additional team members.

We expect this trend to continue into the future, persisting even when we do finally develop a true AI sophisticated enough to make complex decisions on its own. True human intelligence will always have an edge in making intuitive leaps and spotting patterns that the more straightforward AI analysis will miss.

 

 

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