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Adoption Picking Up for AI in Cybersecurity; More Skilled Humans Needed Too


AI is increasingly being put to use in the technology stacks of cybersecurity companies, but not at the expense of human experts who guide the rollout and work alongside the smart tools.

Before 2019, one in five cybersecurity software and service providers were employing AI, according to a study last year by Capgemini Research Institute, in a review of recent research published in DarkReading. Adoption was found to be “poised to skyrocket” by the end of 2020, with 63% of the firms planning to deploy AI in their solutions. Planned use in IT operations and the Internet of Things are predicted to see the most uptick.

Increased adoption of AI does not mean that security professionals on IT staffs are ready to hand off their responsibilities. A recent study conducted by White Hat Security at the RSA Conference 2020, held live at the end of February in San Francisco, found that 60% of security professionals are more confident when cyberthreat findings are verified by humans, over those generated by AI. One-third of respondents said intuition is the most important human element fueling analysis, while 21% said creativity is an advantage for humans.

Still, despite some reservations about AI, the White Hat survey found 70% of security professionals agreed that AI makes teams more efficient by taking over maybe 50% of the mundane tasks, freeing them for other work and reducing stress.

Some security professionals see their jobs as too complex to be taken over by machines, according to a recent Threat Intelligence report from the Ponemon Institute. Over half of the more than 1,000 IT professionals surveyed said they would not be able to train the AI to do the tasks their teams perform, and they are more qualified than AI to catch threats in real time. For protection of networks, close to half of respondents said human intervention was a necessity.

Nevertheless, the train has left the station for AI in cybersecurity. Some three-quarters of executives responding to the Cap Gemini survey said AI in cybersecurity speeds breach response, detection and remediation. Over 60% said AI also reduces the cost of detection and response.

Humans Said to Need the Help of AI in Cybersecurity

Humans need the help of AI to counter cybersecurity threats, suggests a recent report from KPMG and Oracle focused on trends in India. AI working with machine learning provides a powerful filter to sift through alerts and flag the most relevant, according to an account citing the report in The Hindu BusinessLine.

“Depending only on humans to counter the threat is no longer enough. It is far easier, efficient to keep track of different threat vectors and monitor an expanding threat surface with an AI-ML led approach,” stated Greg Jensen, Senior Principal Director of Security, Oracle. “Nearly all security providers now cite the use of some form of ML in their products as a means to protect against zero-day threats and malicious behaviors that evade more traditional forms of detection,” he added.

Greg Jensen, Senior Principal Director of Security, Oracle

The Oracle KPMG Cloud Threat Report, based on a survey of 750 cybersecurity and IT professionals, found top priorities were the security of company financials and intellectual property. The respondents are using many products to combat threats, with 78% using more than 50 discrete cybersecurity products, and 37% using more than 100 products.

As IT organizations in India move more operations to the cloud, many are looking to define a cloud security strategy, which frequently employs a model of shared responsibility.

A shortage of skilled cyber security staff is a challenge for AI adoption in India, as it is globally, with not enough analysts available to triage alerts. AI is seen as being able to assist existing analysts in hunting and analyzing chains of attack.

Over 90% of the KPMG-Oracle survey respondents acknowledged the gap between the current cloud strategies and their ability to provide effective security and privacy controls. Oracle positions to help prescribe more intelligent automation of cybersecurity incorporating AI in response.

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