Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most exciting developments in digital technology. Predicted by some of the earliest science fiction writers, AI is now available in many different apps and devices.
Regular people can use AI in their everyday lives with cars that offer driving assistance, chatbots that provide customer service, web tools that personalize user experiences, and more. The coming years should see a tidal wave of user-facing AI tools, all of which promise to make people’s lives easier and better.
That said, cybersecurity is a field already leveraging AI tech — but it isn’t always for the better. AI can make cybersecurity much more robust and effective at combating cyber threats, but AI can also work against cybersecurity, increasing the number and power of cyberattacks.
Knowing the pros and cons of security tools like AI and having regular cybersecurity training is helpful to the average user, who can use that knowledge to keep their data and devices safe.
Pro: AI Processes Huge Volumes of Data
The human brain is a data processing machine developed to absorb information from the surrounding environment and make decisions to keep the body alive and thriving. Unfortunately, the human brain has its flaws — in particular. It can become overwhelmed when confronted by too much of the same kind of data.
The same isn’t true for artificial intelligence, which thrives on substantial data sets. AI can process large volumes of data in a tiny fraction of the time it would take a person. Thus, when cybersecurity experts use AI, they gain access to more and better insights about digital security than they would otherwise have.
For example, AI tools allow cybersecurity firms to quickly separate network traffic into dangerous behavior and benign activity, giving experts the ability to react to threats rapidly. This security service is essentially impossible because network traffic is a huge amount of data that human brains aren’t equipped to understand.
In addition, AI algorithms can safely be deployed to check for security breaches in the seedier corners of the internet. Some identity theft protection services, for instance, offer dark web monitoring. Here, an algorithm keeps an eye out for any confidential information that might have been leaked and alerts users if it has.
Pro: AI Can Detect Emerging Threats
The cybersecurity landscape is vast and complex. It can be challenging for experts to identify new threats in time to develop solutions before those threats become dangerous to many users.
Fortunately, AI tools can be trained to look for emerging threats. AI services designed to look at cybercriminal activity can aggregate data about trends and identify practices likely to lead to a new method of attack.
Thus, cybersecurity professionals relying on AI gain access to additional time to develop solutions to those threats before they can cause widespread harm. This is why users should protect their devices with top-tier antivirus protection, which can keep users safe from current and future digital threats.
Pro: AI Increases the Speed of Security
Over time, even the most cutting-edge cyber defenses develop vulnerabilities. This happens as the software receives updates and patches designed to alter and improve how the programs function. It can take cybersecurity experts time to recognize a vulnerability and develop a solution, leaving time for cybercriminals to create exploits and for users to experience harm.
In contrast, AI can provide 24/7 coherent security, automatically altering its strategies to ensure that users, devices, and networks are kept protected from evolving threats.
Because artificial intelligence can learn and change without the constant need for patches and updates, cybersecurity providers can reduce the development of vulnerabilities and ensure that security tools are working perfectly in concert to keep systems safer without any wait.
Con: Cybercriminals Can Use AI, Too
The pros of AI include robust and fast data processing and analysis — which are pros that cybercriminals can take advantage of. It might be helpful for users to think of cybersecurity as an arms race, with security experts on one side racing to develop and deploy the best defenses just as criminals on the other side are hustling to create bigger and worse cyber weapons.
At present, both cybersecurity and cybercriminals are looking for ways to leverage the power of AI to accomplish their goals.
Artificial intelligence is a fascinating and functional tool for security, but it isn’t the end-all solution to digital threats. To keep their devices and data safe, users need to take advantage of various security services, from antivirus programs to virtual private networks to their cyber hygiene.