Devin Partida writes about cyber security and technology. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com.
The artificial intelligence (AI) cyber security market is booming. Many companies insist that such products are crucial for stopping the newest threats and taking some of the burdens off already taxed IT security teams. An analysis expects the sector to reach a total value of $38.2 billion by 2026, representing a compound annual growth rate of 23.3% from 2019-2026.
People are clearly interested in improving their efforts with cyber security AI tools that promise to detect threats and alert professionals to problems. Is it worth it to invest in them now, or should company decision-makers hold off?
Security Operations Centers Widely Utilizing AI Assistance
A recent study found that 93% of security operations centers reported using AI and machine learning cybersecurity tools to detect threats. That conclusion may convince company leaders that there’s no time to waste in implementing these advanced tools.
However, they should also remain mindful that these tools require people to train the algorithms and learn how to assess threats identified by the system. These realities mean cyber security professionals should not think of these tools as plug-and-play options. Users will likely spend months getting them set up to offer the best results.
Cyber Security AI Products May Not Work with Old Tech Infrastructures
Many product descriptions for AI-based cyber security tools bring attention to how they save time and money by helping teams better manage threats. Such solutions often do offer those benefits, but that’s not universally true for all companies.
For example, if a business has outdated technology, investing in a cyber security tool that uses AI won’t be enough to sufficiently modernize that organization. Such a product could even worsen its cyber threat readiness rather than improving it. That’s because hackers can exploit old technologies’ security vulnerabilities, putting companies at an elevated risk of attacks.
Another issue companies face due to older infrastructure is that cyber security AI tools likely won’t work with them anyway. This means company leaders should assess how current setups could affect how well these advanced tools work. Doing that helps set accurate expectations moving forward.
Cyber criminals Could Learn to Exploit AI Tools
A look at the progression of cyber crime over the years shows that the entities orchestrating it quickly learn to adapt as new detection methods arrive on the market. That’s why some professionals caution against becoming too dependent on AI cyber security products. Problems can occur if developers rush to make these options available and don’t allow enough time for a thorough algorithm training process. Then, if the data that teaches an algorithm contains mistakes, the AI tool could miss attacks.
Online criminals could also learn the specific characteristics that make an algorithm flag something as dangerous, then alter their methods to avoid those signs. Alternatively, if a hacker can access a company’s data and change the tags assigned to it by AI tools, they might trick the system into perceiving attacks as harmless events.
Understand AI’s Advantages and Limitations
Before company leaders decide about whether to invest in AI cyber security tools soon or wait a while, they should aim to have an accurate view of what these products can do well and where they fall short.
For example, AI could assist if cyber security teams find that they consistently lack enough time to investigate all possible threats. The technology learns what constitutes typical network behavior, then alerts people to abnormalities — often before they know problems exist. Products can also rank risks by severity, letting professionals make more confident decisions about what to address first and how to spend their time.
However, artificial intelligence tools are only as smart as the humans that program them. “It’s possible for a machine learning-based security tool to be programmed incorrectly,” writes Danny Palmer for ZDNet. “If the tool misses a particular kind of cyberattack because it hasn’t been coded to take certain parameters into account, that’s going to lead to problems.”
Weigh the Pros and Cons Before Deciding
This overview emphasizes why company leaders should not view AI cyber security products as cure-all solutions that’ll make cyber attacks things of the past. Provided that someone knows these products are not perfect and won’t replace humans’ analyses, now might be a good time to become an early adopter of these products.
However, it’s unrealistic to assume that these high-tech products offer error-free results and benefit every company. They could give meaningful advantages, but business representatives should not place their whole trust in these options. The safer approach is to think about using AI to supplement human expertise and judgment.