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GUEST ESSAY: Using generative AI to support — not replace — overworked cybersecurity pros | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware


By Zac Amos

As the threat of cybercrime grows with each passing year, cybersecurity must begin utilizing artificial intelligence tools to better combat digital threats.

Related: Leveraging human sensors

Although AI has become a powerful weapon, there’s concern it might be too effective compared to human cybersecurity professionals — leading to layoffs and replacements.

However, the truth is that automated AI tools work best in the hands of cybersecurity professionals instead of replacing them. Rather than trying to use AI to get rid of your security team, seek to use automated tools in conjunction with your existing professionals to ensure the strongest cybersecurity defense.

Generative AI wild card

The newest breakthrough in artificial intelligence technology is machine learning and generative AI. Unlike traditional AI, machine learning can be taught to act on data sets and make accurate predictions instead of being limited to only analyzing.

Machine learning programs use highly complex algorithms to learn from data sets. In addition to analyzing data, they can use that data to observe patterns. Much like humans, they take what they have learned to “visualize” a model and take action based on it.

A program that can take data sets and act independently has enormous cybersecurity potential. Generative AI can look for patterns in code and identify the most common forms of cyberattacks. Instead of alerting a human administrator to handle the problem, the program can eliminate the threat itself.

Human touch needed

The greatest strength of machine learning is its adaptability. The more data it collects, the more it learns and the more threats it can stop. However, that doesn’t mean this tech is infallible. The capabilities of machine learning programs depend on how much data is available.

That’s why the role of cybersecurity professionals is still important. Machine learning requires human operators that teach the programs how to use relevant data. The programs also require human supervision in case it makes mistakes. Alone, machine learning is not yet strong enough to stop all determined hackers; but together, machine learning and human professionals can be a formidable force.

The benefits of machine learning programs for cybersecurity professionals are potentially enormous. Security programs that can enforce themselves to an extent instead of simply analyzing data have the potential to cut down on workloads and give professionals breathing room.

Relieving fatigue

While cybersecurity has become an essential part of everyday life, it can also be hard to keep up with all the latest trends, policies and programs. This is especially true for cybersecurity professionals — whose job is to remain vigilant for threats.

These professionals are constantly bombarded with alerts and information on possible security breaches. Some of these alerts may be false — for example, the system flagged it as a potential threat but not confirmed or it was an error.

The only way to tell if an alert is false is for the professional to check all avenues related to the threat to confirm. This process can be long and time-consuming, just to end up as a false alarm in the end.

If not addressed, cybersecurity fatigue can lead to human error. Failing to check alerts properly risks an actual threat actor breaching the system. Machine learning and AI tools can help reduce that margin of error by automating mundane tasks.

Generative AI tools can be taught the most common causes of false alarms and how to confirm them. If such an alert appears, the AI tool can check the reason by itself and report it to the administrator. This process will significantly reduce cybersecurity professionals’ workload, giving them time to address more critical issues.

While machine learning tools are potent weapons against cyber threats, they need cybersecurity professionals to wield them properly. The power of generative AI tools in the hands of security experts can defeat any cyber attack.

About the essayist: Zac Amos writes about cybersecurity and the tech industry, and he is the Features Editor at ReHack. Follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn for more articles on emerging cybersecurity trends.

June 5th, 2023

 



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