How Business will use AI to fight Cybercrime in 2019

Businesses are going digital to leverage business advantage from faster time to market, automation efficiencies and execution speed. The race is on to achieve digital connectedness of their entire value chains.

At the same time, cybercriminals see the increasing digitization as a window of opportunity. Cybercrime syndicates are actively targeting digital ecosystems including cloud infrastructure, software as a service (SaaS) offerings and internet of things (IoT) devices. Enterprises are faced with the challenge of pushing for greater gains in business advantage while balancing the risk of cyber exposure.

Traditional cybersecurity approaches may offer only limited help. For the newly emerging digital world, cybersecurity needs to be reimagined. AI is a vital partner in that new relationship in 2019.

Why now?

Cybercriminals are using ever more innovative approaches to drum up new threats for which older security technologies are inadequate.

• High-scale, context-sensitive attacks: Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly adroit in targeting strategic individuals and teams in enterprises using a relevant context. Mergers are used as a context for phishing campaigns directed at top management engaged in the activity. In other cases, cybercrime syndicates exploit the difficulty in double-checking important decisions from high-ranking company officers who are traveling.

• Cloud ransom attacks: A target favored by attackers is the cloud console of an organization. Many organizations have become dependent on the cloud to store and process their data. For many digital enterprises, the takeover of their cloud console, deletion of their workloads and data could lead them to bankruptcy. Cybercrime syndicates are using this in order to force cloud-first companies to pay a ransom.

• Deep penetration and long dwell times: Attackers also position themselves in victims’ systems, moving laterally and waiting within the organization for the most favorable moments to attack. By positioning themselves for the greatest gain or greatest destruction of victims’ assets, cybercriminals are often paid enough to spend months preparing and executing attacks.

Enterprises Need a New Ally to Fight Cybercrime

Enterprises have scaled their degree of digital operations and data has grown exponentially with this scale. However, scaling security with conventional approaches has been a challenge for most organizations.

Conventional security systems use rules and signatures, together with threat intelligence for detecting threats and responding to them. This provides some capability for managing incidents by pairing them with known problems. Relying on either conventional security technology or human expertise alone to handle this new situation will not work. We need a fresh approach and artificial intelligence (AI) drives the new wave to counter cybercrime.

What AI Brings To The Fight

Recent developments in AI have led to smarter autonomous security systems. These systems can also learn for themselves (machine learning). With the right AI software, computers can now keep up with big data that cybersecurity systems produce. AI algorithms are very good at identifying outliers from normal patterns. Instead of looking for matches with specific signatures, a tactic that new age attacks have rendered useless, AI blends with cyber by first making a baseline of what is normal. From there, deep dives into abnormal events can be made to detect attacks.

AI can also be trained to go after threats they have been trained on. They can then determine whether a new piece of code is malware based on this learning.

What role does AI play?

In addition to detecting complex attacks, AI lets security teams scale their operations for monitoring cyber systems and detecting cyber breaches, incidents and issues. This is where security teams struggle to perform adequately.

Today’s systems generate so much security data that human experts are rapidly surpassed. People cannot find the attack elements fast enough or reliably enough. By comparison, computers excel at these operations. AI then helps them to make sense of what they find. It can even help by offering suggestions to security teams of processes to handle them.

Human experts still do a better job of deciding which actions are finally required and how best to protect business and legal priorities. Humans also provide the common sense that computers cannot, to ensure the AI result is meaningful in the business context.

Artificial intelligence and human intelligence must work together for the best possible results. Meanwhile, advances in deep learning, a step beyond machine learning, use techniques that mimic the working of the human brain to help AI think and reason better.

We are still at an early stage, but AI will be an increasingly valuable partner in 2019 and years to come for combatting and outwitting cybercrime adversaries.




Ph.D. Fulbright Scholar. AI/ML, Cybersecurity, Data Analytics & EdTech Content Marketing Mgr./Storyteller/Continuous Learner. Startups, Cisco, U.S. State Dept.

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Christopher Nordlinger

Christopher Nordlinger

Ph.D. Fulbright Scholar. AI/ML, Cybersecurity, Data Analytics & EdTech Content Marketing Mgr./Storyteller/Continuous Learner. Startups, Cisco, U.S. State Dept.

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