AI and cybersecurity: The good, the bad and the ugly

In the wrong hands, even tools designed for the greater good can also be used as weapons of destruction. And it won’t have escaped your notice that artificial intelligence (AI) is no exception.

With 2024 on the near horizon, what will this mean for cybersecurity?


The bad, ugly, and downright scary news

In a recent article on AI fighting AI, Computer.org warn: “AI can help cybercriminals generate malware rapidly, automate attacks, and enhance the effectiveness of scams or social engineering attacks through deep fakes and human-sounding AI-powered voice synthesis. The cyber threat landscape is becoming more dangerous, and AI plays a big role in it.”

And in Forbes's article, ‘AI And Cybercrime Unleash A New Era Of Menacing Threats’, they concur, commenting: “…since everyone has access to these tools, nothing is stopping cyber criminals from utilizing AI’s advanced capabilities to their benefit.”

Forbes lists some of the ways AI can be used in cybercrime, including enhancing existing attacks by increasing the difficulty for antivirus software and spam filters to detect threats, creating new attacks by using AI to manipulate or create fake data to create confusion or impersonate officials, and by automating and scaling attacks – which is scarily easy. As just one example, Forbes calls out password cracking where cybercriminals use machine learning (ML) and AI to analyse large data sets and supercharge the power of their password-guessing algorithms.

It is clear that whatever cybercriminals have on their strategic plans for 2024, it will strongly feature using AI to significantly amplify the impact, frequency, and efficacy of their attacks.

So, what’s the good news – because surely there must be some?


The good news

Luckily, like a pendulum, AI swings both ways. The cybersecurity community is actively using AI to improve our ability to overcome the forces of evil.

From proactive threat hunting, where AI can automate the finding application and system vulnerabilities and potential threats, to improving malware detection by analysing networks to benchmark what constitutes safe or regular user or entity behaviour (UEBA), through to significantly enhancing threat detection and handling zero-day attacks – ever-vigilant cybersecurity vendors and partners are united in their efforts to fight fire with fire.

In their introduction to new research, Grand View Research reports, "The global artificial intelligence in cybersecurity market size was valued at USD 13.29 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.3% from 2022 to 2030. Increasing AI technologies, such as natural language processing and machine learning, have gained traction to protect, detect, and respond to threats. Furthermore, an exponential rise in cyberattacks on high-tech companies, defence, and government agencies has underscored the need for advanced artificial intelligence (AI) solutions in cybersecurity.”

The rollout of cybersecurity laws and frameworks backs the commitment to using AI in cybersecurity. While threat actors may be taking delight in their new powers, those dedicated to our cyber defence are working equally as hard and smart to protect us.


Kris Jackson, General Manager - Enterprise Cloud & Security

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