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The Alpha and Omega of Artificial Intelligence in Information Security Managemen
Source: Vinay Lohar




America, Israel and Russia will soon lead the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Israel and USA are home to more than 50 percent of AI startups. Without a single doubt, Israel is home to some of the worlds finest Research and Development (R&D) centers in AI.These startups will contribute a lot to Israeli and US economy. Countries like China, Germany, India and Japan are not far behind although a comparison at this moment would be unfair. With initiative and ownership comes responsibility and liability. I strongly recommend a global governance body for AI. In fact I am surprised, are we humans so mediocre that we cannot even think about the future and plan things in advance? Why do we need Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking or Bill Gates to wake us up from deep sleep?

AI in today’s world is by no means a superior technology. If compared with other technologies from the past, it is definitely much superior. When pitted directly against a human opponent, with intense cognitive goals, AI can be defeated. This doesn’t mean that this is the end of AI. It means, we should understand its limitations till this technology evolves from a very nascent stage to a level where it could do wonders.

Few subsets of AI have been identified. Many more subsets are yet to be discovered as this technology evolves. Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP) Computer Vision (CV) and Internet of Things (IOT) is now enabling machines to do things that only humans could do before. At communication level (human interaction with machines) we have chatbots, live interactive encyclopedias such as Apples Siri and Amazons Alexa.

Business Areas that cannot resist AI at the moment are ecommerce, retail, healthcare, insurance, information security solutions and customer service. All jobs that were once a violation of human rights and were forced to be executed in third world countries where human lives could be easily exploited will be ideally replaced by AI.

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Information Security Management System (ISMS) will not only benefit from this technology but also get a new direction in the future. This domain will slowly move towards governance, risk management and continuous monitoring. AI will help identify the known unknown and the unknown known too. AI will detect security threats, automate SOC response and improve the turnaround time in attack remediation. In fact, AI is a technology that ISMS cannot afford to miss; growing to 62 percent by 2018, with a prediction of a 300 percent year-on-year increase in AI investment this year, AI is clearly here to stay.

AI is already being used to a fair extent in data classification, access and identity management, module authorizations, IT infrastructure management, random security checks on systems, firewall monitoring, SPAM management, user behavior analytic and to a lesser extent prevention of Advanced Persistent Threats (APT), cryptography and antivirus solutions. In the future, AI will help us respond quicker to security events, provide better and efficient data analysis and use statistical sampling models to better predict or anticipate behaviors.

Companies like Tanium, Cylance and LogRhythm are providing powerful AI based solutions for ISMS. On the other hand, start-ups like Darktrace, Harvest.AI, PatternEx and StatusToday that have caught the eye of the industry for changing the very approach to ISMS. Martin Ford, futurist and author of ‘Rise of the Robots’, says “There is a concern that criminals are in some cases ahead of the game and routinely utilize bots and automated attacks. These will rapidly get more sophisticated.” This is a fact and one has to accept it. This world is a lot more opaque than it was before. As I said before, ISMS in the future would mean more of governance, risk management and continuous monitoring. This is where AI will fight the battle, unfortunately on both sides. AI will be increasingly critical in detecting threats and defending systems. AI will offer every Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) a whole new perspective, instead of struggling with trivial things that were a cause of concern in the past. CISOs acknowledge the need for technology that will increase the efficiency of their Security Operation Centre (SOC). AI holds the promise to deliver the goods very soon.

If we think from a CISOs perspective, the biggest threats he or she would mention today are compromised users, negligent employees, outdated technology, inefficiently defined processes and malicious insiders. For this reason, one of the most important tools in the CISO’s arsenal is User Behavior Analytics (UBA), a solution that scans data from a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system, correlates it by user and builds a serialized timeline.

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Let us not forget that advancements in technology introduce new threat vectors. This means one needs to be much organized, structured and aware of changes that take place. The very fact that IOT will interconnect multiple devices in the coming years provides a dream scenario for cyber criminals — new domains to exploit and multiple access points to target. Furthermore a weaker security on these access points could prove fatal.

Let us also not forget that AI cannot be left to itself. We have read enough warnings from Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates. It is important that AI has a human master to control critical functions. Security Experts need not worry about their future. Instead of having highly qualified personnel wasting time on repetitive and mundane tasks, AI and IOT will take away this burden and allow them work on the more challenging task of exploring new and complex threats and define ways to deal with them. Predictive analytics and ML will assist these experts in their quest to secure critical information. Future advancements in AI will provide more insights for security experts, helping them protect new devices and networks even before a threat is identified or classified by a human.

AI and IOT together will penetrate many more areas within ISMS such as asset identification, incident response and tracking, audit {to a certain extent}, SIEM, application security and Business Intelligence (BI).

Unlike the general perception AI is not an effort to shun jobs and opportunities. It’s wiser to ask ourselves one question, in a world full of threats, from cybercriminals, unknown entities to state-sponsored agencies, it’s clear that risks are increasing, how does one manage to secure Information with meager human efforts? The global cost of cybercrime including all its variants is soon expected to hit $2 trillion or more by 2019. This is a threefold increase from the 2015 estimate of $500 billion.

Thus securing data is becoming a more critical and at the same time complex — something that can only be achieved with lesser efforts and more accuracy with the help of augmented intelligence and AI. The very fact that over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is generated every day worldwide, and 80 percent of it is unstructured highlights the reality that humans alone simply can’t handle all that information. AI is our partner in progress.



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