Empowering women in tech: AI and cybersecurity innovation | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

The intersection of AI, cybersecurity and the empowerment of women in tech is not just a matter of addressing current threats. It’s also about shaping the future of the industry.

“There’s an aspect of how incredibly it’s changed over the course of my 25-plus year career,” said Nicole Carignan (photo), vice president of strategic cyber AI at Darktrace Holdings Ltd. “At the same time, learning from those lessons, opening up the feedback to those who are younger than us because they have a different perspective. Continuing to push it forward and making it better a better work environment for everyone.”

Carignan spoke with theCUBE host Savannah Peterson at the Women in Data Science Worldwide Conference, during an exclusive broadcast on theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio. They discussed Carignan’s role at Darktrace, emphasizing her cross-functional approach in guiding the company through AI and cybersecurity challenges, including working on machine learning models and enhancing security solutions.

Navigating the threat landscape with AI

Generative AI technologies have significantly altered the complexities of the cybersecurity threat environment, according to Carignan. Adversaries quickly adapt to technological advancements, utilizing AI to enhance their capabilities and execute sophisticated phishing and social engineering attacks.

“AI has made a drastic impact on the adversary threat landscape in the last 18 months,” Carignan said. When generative AI hit the scene, those large language models, very quickly adversaries started innovating and jailbreaking them through prompt-based injection, manipulating them, turning them into autonomous agents that could augment their attacks on demand.”

This rise in AI-facilitated threats has not gone unnoticed by cybersecurity professionals. Carignan’s account of a 135% increase in novel social engineering attacks last year following the emergence of gen AI tools sheds light on the urgency with which the cybersecurity community must act. By leveraging AI, attackers have managed to overcome language barriers, crafting phishing emails with unprecedented sophistication.

“This is going to transfer to all the other domains, like cloud, SaaS, IT, OT, network endpoint, because a lot of organizations lack visibility across those domains and how they inter-operate. Adversaries kind of ping in on that,” Carignan said. “We’re also seeing a lot of research being done on multi-hop reasoning and complex decision-making of autonomous agents. We expect that the threat landscape is only going to change dramatically over the next 12 to 24 months.”

Carignan’s insights underscore the necessity for innovative and proactive approaches to cybersecurity, particularly in an era where AI’s influence on threat landscapes continues to grow.

Women in tech and bringing more diverse solutions to the table

Beyond the technical discussion of AI and cybersecurity, Carignan’s presence and narrative at WiDS serve as a powerful testament to the role of women in steering the future of technology. Reflecting on her own journey and the broader implications of increased female participation in tech, Carignan pointed out the unique perspectives and collaborative spirit women bring to the table.

“It truly does feel like a culture of support,” she said. “Also getting to see the spectrum of women in diversity, but also in age … building together, collaborating together and just supporting one another.”

Carignan’s story is particularly inspiring, tracing her path from a high schooler fascinated by logic and patterns to a leading figure in cybersecurity. Her transition from programming to a pivotal role at NASA, and eventually into the intelligence community, illustrates the diverse trajectories through which women can impact the tech ecosystem.

“If you are in a position of power, if you are in a position of making decisions and hiring decisions, strive for diversity, and it will only pay off,” Carignan said. “You will get so many different solutions to a problem, which will ultimately end up being a better solution all around.”

Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE Research’s coverage of the Women in Data Science Worldwide Conference:

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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