3 min read

More Businesses are Fighting Cybercrimes with Artificial Intelligence

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The days of storing personal, health and business records on paper, tucked away in a locked filing cabinet are gone. More organizations are making the digital transformation as a more efficient way to access and share information online, in servers and in the cloud.

Data privacy and federal compliance are paramount in the business industry and at First National Technology Solutions (FNTS), our technology experts work with organizations to ensure their sensitive data stays secure. Businesses can be a popular target for threats so companies are challenged to stay on top of the latest threats and security programs.

What is Artificial Intelligence?
More organizations are utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) in their cybersecurity efforts, as a way to further protect their systems and data from threats, leaks and malicious activity. Artificial Intelligence is the ability for a machine to mimic human function to perform an action. Examples of AI include Apple’s SIRI and Google’s self-driving cars.

Why is AI Being Used in Business Industries?
In some cases, AI augments traditional anti-virus protections because business personnel can’t efficiently sift through every malicious event or threat alert. In addition, some businesses have limited IT budgets or critical hardware that has vulnerabilities. If data is fed into an AI-infused IT security system, it can proactively take actions to isolate and protect data traffic until a more permanent solution becomes available. Additionally, it’s possible that devices still function normally after being compromised. AI can monitor and investigate traffic in real-time to flag potentially harmful traffic based on behavior, its source, destination and function.

How Does Artificial Intelligence Prevent Cyber Threats?
AI learns what is “normal” to create a baseline and will take automated actions that deviate from the baseline. AI makes decisions based on pre-programmed parameters and decision-making intelligence algorithms, in conjunction with a vast amount of data that has been examined, to provide a history of previously seen events and actions. This allows the AI to learn and evolve. Depending on the threshold setup when the AI system is implemented, the actions can alert key personnel through immediately isolating and quarantining a device or network segment or deploy new rules to firewalls or other equipment.

AI can guard against hackers by blocking traffic based on a number of factors, including, geographic location, application and the user. Traffic can be blocked for varying amounts of time, depending on how abnormal and malicious the traffic is compared to the baseline and the intelligence gathered in the AI’s cloud processing engine. If ransomware is released, the abnormal activity seen by an unknown file or application would be immediately analyzed and quarantined if it deviates from what is known to be normal. 

What Does AI Do Once a Threat is Detected?
A 2016 report from cybersecurity company FireEye shows it usually takes 99 days for a business to realize it has been breached—plenty of damage can be done in that amount of time. Artificial Intelligence can take immediate actions instead of initiating action after the fact. AI can self-heal or correct actions through quarantining a threat and removing it from a network to prevent data from being leaked. Additionally, AI can be used to take vulnerability scan results and exploit information to move assets to a “safe-zone” to prevent infection. Different security policies also can be applied in an attempt to virtually patch devices before an official patch is released. Lastly, if abnormal activity is seen prior to any execution, AI can wipe the activity and all preceding actions from the machine. Essentially, every action is recorded and monitored for playback, if necessary. One of the most widely implemented AI areas is user behavioral analytics which are tied to identity management. If abnormal activities are seen, AI can take immediate action by blocking an action or alerting personnel.

As with any technology, there can be some false positives. Humans can be extremely unpredictable. If the traffic AI uses to create its normal baseline is skewed in any way, it might need to be corrected or adjusted on the fly, but over time, the accuracy increases. Today’s AI solutions are much more intelligent due to the algorithm tuning, available data points, and processing power made available by cloud computing.

In order to seize the benefits of AI and machine learning, an organization must implement in-depth defense and multi-layer security programs and have an executive-sponsored information security function. Without those, machine learning and AI would be under-utilized tools that don’t have the opportunity to take a security program to the next level. Also, keep in mind that machine learning and AI isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. First National Technology Solutions consults with clients to understand what processes and technology are already in place and helps determine if they would benefit from AI assistance.