Human-Machine Innovation and Cooperation
I have written precisely one article on the subject of Artificial Intelligence—particularly as it pertains to the future of cybersecurity. Now comes the time to pen another, as the topic continues to steadily gain tread among experts across the industry. Last week’s CES event heavily featured AI technology, to the point where what was once purely in the realm of science fiction now was ubiquitous on the show floor. Partnerships between Nvidia and Audi, Qualcomm’s 5G network hyperconnectivity, and of course, cognitive platforms from Watson to Alexa: all were on display. The question before us then, is what role should AI play in combating data security?
As has been observed and expected, the sophistication and complexity behind cyber attacks has only grown year after year. It has reached the point where it’s not so much a matter of ‘If’ an organization will be breached, but when, and how they will respond to it. Arguments have been put forth, such as by John Kindervag at Dark Reading, among others, that a shift to proactive responses rather than solely reactive measures is necessary. Many are ill equipped to do so.
With each new story, however, it becomes evident that while the human factor will always be an important element of securing an entity’s network (as well as a weak point, but every coin has two sides), there remain security gaps. Specifically, these gaps exist in monitoring and identifying threats, not to mention a vast shortage of expertise in critical security positions for numerous organizations. Even when these jobs are filled, the sheer amount of data that businesses process and store on a daily basis is enormous—perhaps more than humans alone can manage efficiently.
It’s difficult to avoid IBM’s Sandy Bird’s pessimism about the ongoing battle against cyber criminals if you pay attention to headlines. More than a billion records get pilfered each year, after all, and with no end in sight. Security fatigue, as I wrote last time, looms large. All this underscores Bird’s assertion that AI must play a more prominent part in assisting organizations in cybersecurity. Not only that, he also argues, primarily for the sake of understanding, that it be renamed “Augmented” Intelligence. Either way, the idea is to employ cognitive learning systems to assist (“augment”) security teams to detect risks, whether comparing anomalies against base behavior patterns, differentiating between active attacks and simple glitches, or simply handling the total volume of alerts an entity has to deal with. This way, the idea goes, the (hopefully) encrypted data will have another layer of protection. Ultimately, this advocates for a level of human-machine synergy to optimize a company’s efforts.
Whatever the path forward for all industries, it will need to reflect the changing times. Organizations will need to flexible and innovative if they want to survive and thrive in the new cyber landscape.