The (Artificially) Intelligent Way to Combat Hacking

AI is introducing new ways to shut down hackers, proactively and in real time.

The threat posed by hacking is growing in scale and complexity seemingly faster than we can adapt. With IoT and the industrial internet driving an overwhelming proliferation and atomization of connectivity, the number of places for malicious actors to creep in is growing exponentially. But if this is too much for the human mind to comprehend, let alone deal with, maybe brains of the electronic persuasion could come to our rescue.

Get Smart About Threat Detection

As an article recently published on the CSO website explains, emerging artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are presenting innovative real-time methods for combating criminal hackers. These technologies are able to monitor activity for suspect patterns and fire off an alert or block access whenever anything suspicious is noticed. Automating security in this way clearly provides a level of vigilance that mere humans cannot compete with.

This, in itself, is not new. There is already technology capable of identifying suspect activity. But the next wave of security tech will use AI to ensure that the definitions of threatening behavior are always up-to-date and new patterns are detected earlier than humanly possible.

Recent leaps in AI have sprung from machine learning and adaptive intelligence. These are, for instance, essential to the functioning of self-driving cars. Big data is an important factor here, making it possible to process massive amounts of data to extract the parts that are significant or anomalous in any specific context. AI-based threat detection will be faster and more thorough, with fewer false positives and less reliance on manual processes.

Staying One Step Ahead of the Bad Guys

Perhaps the real innovation here is the proactive element. Manually updating definitions of suspect behavior is an inherently laborious process, but it also means that threat detection is focused on known threats and can do little or nothing to tackle emerging threats. By contrast, as CSO puts it: “AI can also predict behavior based on current data sets, adapting your own security infrastructure based on what could potentially lead to a breach.”

Effectively, the cybersecurity community, as a whole, is always one step behind the hackers. Someone has to fall victim to a hack before steps can be taken to prevent that hack. But with machine learning, adaptive intelligence and big data in their tool belts, organizations can potentially get the jump on new hacking techniques and shut them down before they’re even used effectively.

Artificial intelligence has a long way to go before it’s perfected, but the potential for AI-based cybersecurity looks extraordinary. Naturally though, hackers are also starting to integrate AI into their activities. So, staying ahead on threat detection might also require staying ahead on AI. This may be relatively simple for enterprises fighting lone hackers, but cyberwarfare and espionage scenarios could be a different matter.

Sam Macklin
By Sam Macklin | February 9, 2017

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