“Humans alone can’t protect a company,” states Stephen McNulty, President of Micro Focus APJ regarding the adoption of AI in cybersecurity. Micro Focus is a company that provides “mission-critical software that keeps the digital world running,” with a broad range of clients from defence intelligence agencies to the finance industry. In an interview with Stephen, he elaborated on the role of AI in cybersecurity amidst the current landscape.
Since the pandemic began, the world has seen an uptick in the number of attacks targeting both private companies and public institutions. With ransomware being one of the most used attacks recently, criminals are making large amounts of money at the expense of businesses. The constantly evolving digital landscape has caused an increase in vulnerabilities within an organisation’s cybersecurity. As current working conditions increase attack surfaces and cybercriminals advance to take advantage of these vulnerabilities, technology leaders are grappling to find the right solutions to help save their companies from the repercussions of an attack, and AI may be the solution they need to remedy their situations.
Let’s rewind a bit and address the conditions of the current working world. In the words of Stephen, “We all can recognise that it’s not just work from home, it’s work from anywhere.” Whether an employee truly works from the comfort of their home or at a local café using unsecured public Wi-Fi are significant factors that can compromise an organisation’s data security. Not to mention the addition of insider threats make it considerably harder for IT teams to monitor the enlarged attack surface while acting fast enough to neutralise possible incoming threats without any assistance. Therefore, “AI is crucial in monitoring and analysing the billions of events happening all around us and then acting fast enough to keep our companies safe. AI technologies can automate the processing, the filtering, the synthesis of data and increasingly integrate it into all security tools. The ability to continuously establish and update baseline behaviour of users because it’s constantly evolving, allows security teams to monitor, understand and secure their companies and remote workforce,” emphasised Stephen.
AI in cybersecurity is somewhat new and its full potential has yet to be unlocked. As more cybersecurity specialists and organisations realise the importance of integrating AI into their cybersecurity systems due to the sophistication and repetitiveness of attacks, the current uses will expand. Stephen lists the current uses of AI in cybersecurity as “Monitoring security incidents and then integrating machine-learning into firewalls to flag anomalies; identifying the origin of cyberattacks through NLP applications; using RPA, Robotic Process Automation bots to automate tasks and processes then monitor and analyse mobile endpoints for cyber threats.”
When asked if companies can be 100% protected from cyber attacks, Stephen commented with a resounding no, stating, “No company can guarantee 100% immunity, you’re only as strong as your weakest link but no organisation is completely immune to cyber threats. Also think that threats are constantly evolving so even if a company was close to 100% secure today, they could never guarantee that they would be in the future. So, what we’re doing is focusing with our customers and building the overall cyber education and resilience to stay ahead of the threats.”
The APJ President goes on to elaborate how organisations can strengthen their cyber resilience, “Firstly, a good cyber resilience strategy looks at the systems, applications and data. Secondly, the ability to detect and act when someone is trying to act maliciously against you. This can be very challenging as bad actors come in all shapes and sizes and this is where AI really is crucial. And then thirdly, the ability to adapt and evolve your security posture to stay ahead of this, and this is where machine-learning (ML) is essential to continually update your AI models to be ahead of the curve.”
AI in cybersecurity is also beneficial for addressing talent shortages within organisations to decrease the demand for skilled cybersecurity employees. AI acts as a force multiplier so that organisations can increase the productivity and effectiveness of their security analysts.
Now how should companies go about adopting AI to avoid pitfalls? Stephen highlights three ways:
Ensure your team is adequately skilled.
Understand the basics of the network.
Start simple and focus on AI-based use cases.
Cybersecurity providers have been increasingly introducing AI in their cybersecurity offerings. Micro Focus is no exception as their cyber resilience solution integrates AI for threat detection and protection. Businesses looking to beef up their cybersecurity measures must look into the use of AI for cybersecurity.