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Why artificial intelligence will change cybersecurity as we know it

AI and Intelligent Automation Network Guest Post

Guest post originally published in AI & Intelligent Automation Network.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are becoming embedded in businesses across the globe, and cybersecurity is quickly emerging as a key area of focus for enterprises striving to enhance the security of sensitive data.

Despite this growing adoption, however, many are still struggling with misconceptions and confusions surrounding the different types of solutions available on the market today.

To set these misconceptions to rest once and for all, one must recognize certain key considerations around AI and understand how it is disrupting the information and network security realm.

It’s equally important to recognize the difference between traditional automation and intelligent automation and its impact on cybersecurity. With this knowledge in hand, business leaders can then begin to capitalize on the opportunities and long-term potential of AI and automation in the intelligent enterprise.

The role of AI in cybersecurity 

Perhaps the ultimate turning point in terms of organizations recognizing the critical importance of adequate network security was the Target breach of 2013. The utter magnitude of that breach opened the eyes of many and placed the topic of cybersecurity front and center on the list of business priorities.

Since that time, there has been a steady influx of attacks that have evolved and increased in both complexity and frequency, subsequently increasing the need for fast, accurate incident response and remediation.

The challenge many organizations face, however, is how? Hiring additional staff isn’t always feasible, whether it’s due to budgetary restraints or simply a lack of qualified personnel.

Additionally, given the sophistication and relentlessness of today’s cyber-attacks, many organizations are finding that human ability is no match. That’s where automation and orchestration technology has become a true game changer.

Combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning capability, automated cybersecurity is meeting attackers head on and essentially fighting fire with fire.

In the context of cybersecurity, AI is able to perceive its own environment well enough that it can independently identify threats and take the appropriate action, all without the need for human intervention. AI is particularly powerful from an incident response perspective because it is adept at recognizing patterns and anomalies far better than any human agent ever could.

Essentially, it’s like having an army of intelligent robots standing at the ready, 24/7/365 to detect and respond to threats. Few, if any, human workforces can accomplish such a feat, especially with such tremendous accuracy.

Machine learning is bringing that power to the next level because it can “learn” and improve on its own, based on factors such as the outcome of previous actions taken. Together with artificial intelligence, machine learning can effectively be used to predict future outcomes based on past events. This can help humans make more data-driven and therefore more accurate business decisions. And when the monumental task of incident management can be shifted from human to machine, businesses are better able to allocate resources toward the most valuable human-led tasks.

Simply put, as the amount of data continues to grow and the global threat landscape continues to advance, both in number and sophistication of attackers, organizations can no longer rely on antiquated tools and manual activities.

Automated cybersecurity incident response powered by AI and machine learning will enable business leaders to stay a step ahead of the threats.

Traditional vs. intelligent automation

IT automation is certainly not a new concept, but the technologies behind it have progressed significantly in recent years. As a result of these advancements, businesses are benefiting in a number of tangible ways, including that of enhanced network security.

But what’s the difference between the traditional automation tools of the past and today’s sophisticated platforms that are powered by intelligent technology?

While both technologies function with similar end-goals in mind—that is, streamlining and automating manual tasks and workflows—intelligent automation is designed to take things a step further by augmenting human intelligence. Not only is this a more cost-effective and scalable approach, but it can be implemented without having to sacrifice process quality and reliability.

Ultimately, the key differentiator between traditional and intelligent automation is the ability to make decisions.

Basic automation tools are capable of gathering and organizing data into reports that human agents can then use to forecast and plan. With machine learning, that data can be analyzed by artificial intelligence at a rate of speed and accuracy far greater than humans are capable of. The result is more valuable information that can facilitate improved business decisions.

The future of AI in cybersecurity

The opportunities that AI-powered automation presents to the enterprise are many, particularly in terms of enhanced network security.

For instance, intelligent automation is capable of quickly detecting and identifying not only known but also entirely new classes of threats. Over time, these agentless systems will continue to learn, adapt and improve on their own, becoming even more effective at managing incidents and analyzing the changing behaviors of attackers.

Additionally, deep learning algorithms will be able to sift through enormous amounts of data in real-time to uncover valuable insights into the growing threat landscape, enabling rapid and effective improvements to existing incident remediation processes.

The long-term goal of automation powered by AI is to achieve an even greater level of flexibility along with enhanced thinking capability that matches the human mind as closely as possible. The result will be a genius-level platform that is faster, more accurate, more consistent and far more effective at achieving maximum cybersecurity than any human team could ever accomplish.

Such a system, just like the human cognition it’s designed to simulate, will be capable of learning new processes, adapting according to its changing environment, arriving at its own conclusions and making its own intelligent decisions.

Perhaps the most interesting fact of all is that this type of system is not some far off distant vision of the future, but a present reality and one that is already driving the intelligent enterprise of today with the promise of keeping it a step ahead of the threat landscape of tomorrow.

To read the guest post in its entirety, please click here.

5 Cybersecurity Mistakes That Could Be Placing Your Company in Danger

5 Cybersecurity Mistakes That Could Be Placing Your Company in DangerWhen it comes to keeping your organization and all the data you maintain secure from potential breaches, you may believe you know the basics. You may even think you’ve got it all together, with all the right strategies, tools and technologies in place to ensure maximum protection. But there are a few mistakes that many companies make without even realizing they’re doing so. And the consequences of those errors could be incredibly costly, both financially and reputation-wise. If you or your cybersecurity team are committing any of the following blunders, your business could be at risk.

Being overconfident.

Some IT leaders make the egregious mistake of believing that cybersecurity isn’t really that much to be concerned about. For instance, some think that because they’re a small business, cyber criminals aren’t interested in the information they possess. Others, such as end-users, believe that their IT team will handle everything. The fact is, cybersecurity is something companies of every size and all employees absolutely must account for. Otherwise, your firm will become a sitting target.

Neglecting the power of email.

Many companies invest tons of money, time and resources into protecting their network and infrastructure, yet somehow forget to secure email communications. The fact is, email remains one of the most effective tools used by cyber criminals to gain access to the sensitive data they’re after and if you’re not using the right kind of protection – namely two-step verification and encryption – you’re placing your company at risk. It’s equally important to educate all users about how to spot phishing and other social engineering attempts.

Inadequate password policies.

Weak passwords are a hacker’s dream come true. Despite this fact, it’s alarming how many people still use passwords like ‘12345’ or ‘admin’. Not only do people use these easy-to-guess passwords, but they often reuse them on multiple systems, making it simple for a cyber-criminal to gain access to any number of systems and applications. This is a huge problem for companies that must be addressed through the development and implementation of strong password policies.

Thinking anti-virus is enough.

Many otherwise savvy individuals make the costly error of believing that anti-virus software is enough to keep their sensitive data secure. The fact is, today’s hackers are becoming more sophisticated and persistent by the day, which means they’re identifying newer vulnerabilities to exploit – vulnerabilities that cannot be detected with traditional malware prevention methods. To truly be safe, the use of automated cybersecurity incident response powered by machine learning is strongly recommended.

Not backing up data.

The fact is, even the strongest cybersecurity strategy can be infiltrated by a dedicated enough hacker. It’s no longer a question of IF you’ll be attacked, but rather WHEN. As such, engaging in regular data backup activities can ensure that should your infrastructure be compromised, you can get back up and running quickly and with minimal impact. For instance, when your data is backed up, a ransomware attack can be neutralized since there will be no need to pay the fee in order to regain access to files. Instead, the infected files can be isolated and eradicated and data restored from your backup.

These five cybersecurity mistakes are surprisingly common. Thankfully, correcting them isn’t impossible. If you recognize any of the above occurring within your organization, the time to take action is now. Start by implementing the right policies, educating employees and investing in the right technology to keep your information as secure as possible.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response

How AI Can Bring Your Cybersecurity to the Next Level

How AI Can Bring Your Cybersecurity to the Next LevelArtificial intelligence and machine learning are starting become buzzwords in just about every industry. Cybersecurity is no exception. In fact, even governments across the globe are jumping on the bandwagon in an effort to enhance the security of their sensitive data. Yet, despite the growing adoption, many of security agents are struggling with misconceptions and confusions surrounding the different types of solutions available on the market today. If you are among them, here’s what you need to know about how AI is disrupting the information and network security realm.

The first point to consider is the difference between traditional automation and intelligent automation powered by machine learning. While both function toward the same end-goal of streamlining and automating manual cybersecurity tasks, such as incident detection and remediation, intelligent automation takes things a step further by augmenting human intelligence, which is both costly and unscalable. Most importantly, this is done without sacrificing reliability and quality of the processes being automated.

The real difference comes into play in the area of decision making – something all cybersecurity leaders are responsible for. With traditional automation, lots of data is gathered and can be turned into reports which can then be used to help human agents forecast and plan for the future. With machine learning, that data is analyzed by artificial intelligence at a rate far faster than any human could possibly compute. The result is more accurate, precise and valuable information for making better business decisions. When you can leverage data more effectively, you can better protect your organization moving forward.

Expanding on this, automation powered by AI is capable of quickly detecting and identifying entirely new classes of threats. Over time, these agentless systems continuously learn, adapt and improve, becoming even more effective at detecting incidents, analyzing attacker behaviors and even managing more obscure threat events. At the same time, deep learning algorithms sift through mountains of data in real-time to uncover and provide valuable insights into threats and enable rapid, highly effective improvements to cybersecurity remediation processes.

The long-term goal of AI powered automation is to achieve even greater flexibility and enhanced thinking capacity that is as close to the human mind as possible. The result will be a genius system that is faster, more consistent and far more effective at maximizing cybersecurity than human agents ever could be. Such a platform, just like the human cognition its designed to mimic, will be capable of adapting and learning new tasks and processes, arriving at its own conclusions and making its own intelligent decisions.

What could your organization achieve with this level of cybersecurity protection? Believe it or not, this is not a far off goal or figment of the future. Automation powered by machine learning is here now, and you can see it in action today by clicking here.

Bring your company’s protection to the next level with the next generation of IT automation.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response

3 Biggest Cybersecurity Challenges on the Horizon

3 Biggest Cybersecurity Challenges on the HorizonWhether you’re already knee-deep in the industry or you’re simply kicking around the idea of becoming a cybersecurity professional, staying abreast of the current and future trends is essential. In particular, it’s important to have a good idea of what challenges those in the security realm are facing and expect to face in the near future. Let’s take a look at three specific areas where tomorrow’s security agents will need to focus their efforts.

Complexity

Not only are the threats of tomorrow becoming more and more sophisticated (and therefore difficult to combat), but the IT environment itself is becoming equally complex. Marrying disparate systems to create a more cohesive infrastructure and finding a way to seamlessly link legacy applications with newer ones is a challenge in and of itself. The more complex the network, the more points of entry for attackers and the greater the vulnerability.

Cybersecurity professionals must leverage technology that is capable of keeping up with the evolving threats their organizations face. Incorporating machine learning and artificial intelligence into the mix can help keep IT teams a step ahead in the fight to protect information.

Adversaries

In addition to the external forces that wish to do organizations harm, cybersecurity teams must also account for the insider threats that threaten the sanctity of confidential data. Employees at every level are routinely putting their employers at risk, most often without even realizing what they’re doing. This is why the job of IT must also involve ongoing communication, education and training to ensure that everyone recognizes the importance of cybersecurity and their role in keeping information safe.

Meanwhile, hackers are using technology to increase the frequency of their attacks. They are persistent to the point of relentlessness. To address this, adopting appropriate technological measures that can “fight fire with fire” is key. This ensures constant protection that human workers simply cannot deliver.

Staffing Shortage

It’s hard to believe that this is still a topic of discussion, but it remains a significant concern, especially from a cybersecurity perspective. Some organizations don’t have access to enough qualified IT professionals or struggle to retain them while others simply don’t have the resources to keep an entire team on the payroll.

Once again, technology is there to save the day. Automated incident response can augment human IT teams, plugging the holes left by staffing shortages and serving as a virtual army of protection. What’s more, because automated incident management is available around the clock, the organization remains safe from attacks no matter when they occur.

Is your organization adequately prepared to deal with the three biggest challenges to come? To see how Ayehu’s Next Generation automation and orchestration platform can resolve all of these issues for you, request a product demo.

How to Get Critical Systems Back Online in Minutes

Why Compliance and Cybersecurity Are Worlds Apart

Why Compliance and Cybersecurity Are Worlds ApartAsk any seasoned executive what’s most important, besides profits and growth, and they’ll likely tell you compliance. As such, most organizations have careful plans in place to ensure that they stay in line with all laws and regulations, particularly those surrounding information security. Unfortunately, far too many fall into the trap of thinking that if they are compliant, they are also safe from hackers. The truth is, compliance and cybersecurity are actually worlds apart and if you’re not accounting for this, your organization is more vulnerable than you think.

The regulations governing information security are designed to protect consumers from having their sensitive data fall into the wrong hands (and suffering damages as a result). The details of these laws vary from state to state and country to country, and many use terms that are open to interpretation, like “reasonable” or “appropriate.”

The main difference between compliance and cybersecurity is that the former is concerned with protecting consumers, while the latter is about keeping your network and ALL sensitive data safe from harm. For instance, compliance may dictate that you must keep a written information security plan on file and take “appropriate” measures to protect the personal information about your employees and customers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t extend much beyond this.

So, having a written plan and keeping personal information properly stored away under virtual lock and key may be enough to keep your company compliant. It won’t, however, protect that information from a hacker that is able to break through and access it. That’s where cybersecurity comes into play.

Let’s say an employee receives an email that looks legitimate, but turns out to be a ransomware scam. By opening an infected file, the employee inadvertently launches a virus that attacks and locks up your systems, demanding payment in exchange for releasing your files. Having a compliance plan in place will do absolutely nothing to protect your firm against such an attack. Furthermore, if you don’t have the right cybersecurity strategy in place, you could end up with a huge financial mess to clean up.

So, how can you stay safe on both fronts? How can you ensure that you’re compliant in the event of an audit but also maintain a strong and effective defense against cyber-attacks? In addition to the steps you’ve already taken to stay in line with your local laws and regulations, developing and implementing a solid cybersecurity strategy that includes employee education, proper backing up of all critical data, ongoing monitoring and automated incident response.

If you’re currently operating under the idea that your compliance will keep you cybersecure, then you are placing your organization at a much greater risk than you may even realize.

Want to see how you can maximize your cybersecurity with just one agentless, automated tool? Request a demo of our next generation IT automation and orchestration platform today and power-up your defense today!

How to Get Critical Systems Back Online in Minutes

Want to Keep Your Organization Safe from Insider Threats? Watch Your C-Suite…

Want to Keep Your Organization Safe from Insider Threats? Watch Your C-Suite…These days, security professionals must be highly vigilant against the many threats that place their organizations at risk on a daily basis. And while hackers certainly show up high on the list, the truth of the matter is, it’s the people who work within your company that pose the greatest risk to data security. That’s why things like spear phishing have become such a successful method of entry. In fact, 80 percent of companies say that “end user carelessness” is the biggest security threat to their organization.

But the ones that are making your company most vulnerable to potential breaches aren’t poorly trained entry-level employees. It’s your senior level managers. Surprised? Many are. Yet, if you think about it, these individuals have access to information that is much more sensitive than that of the everyday employee. So, it stands to reason that the chance of an error resulting in a breach is naturally higher for this group.

And the numbers seem to support this theory. 58 percent of senior managers have accidentally sent sensitive information to the wrong person (compared to just 25 percent of workers overall). 51 percent have taken files with them after leaving a job – twice as many as office workers in general.

What are the biggest security risks these insiders pose? Most tend to fall within one or more of the following:

  • Reusing or sharing passwords with others
  • Leaving computers unattended outside of the workplace
  • Failing to delete data from computers once it’s no longer necessary
  • Carrying unnecessary sensitive data on a device (laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.) while traveling
  • Using unsecured personal devices to process sensitive information
  • Failing to encrypt information when transmitting

So, what’s the solution? Well, the best approach should be multifaceted. Here’s a list of recommended actions:

  • Develop and establish a written security policy
  • Communicate that policy openly and regularly to ensure awareness across all levels of the company
  • Ensure appropriate access restriction to sensitive data (virtual and physical)
  • Conduct regular training to increase security awareness about what is and isn’t acceptable (start from the top!)

Last, but certainly not least, you should invest in available technology. This includes monitoring systems, alerting programs and automated cybersecurity incident response. These things will ensure that should an employee still make an error, it will be detected, addressed and remediated as quickly as possible.

Could your senior managers be placing your organization at risk? The time to act is now – before it’s too late! Start working on your strategy and download your free 30 day trial of Ayehu automation and orchestration platform.

eBook: 5 Reasons You Should Automate Cyber Security Incident Response