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How AI is Revolutionizing Cybersecurity: Insights for Professionals

As cyber threats grow in complexity and scale, AI offers transformative solutions that enable cybersecurity professionals to stay ahead of adversaries. In this blog post, I will explore how AI, particularly in its predictive and generative forms, contributes to advancements in cybersecurity and the role it plays in fortifying defenses against sophisticated attacks.

The Importance of AI in Cybersecurity

AI's role in cybersecurity cannot be overstated. With the rapid increase in unique cyberattacks — documented in the BlackBerry Global Threat Intelligence Report — traditional methods of threat detection and response are no longer sufficient. AI technologies provide the capability to analyze vast amounts of data, identify patterns, and predict potential threats before they can cause harm. This shift from reactive to proactive cybersecurity strategies is critical for staying ahead of threat actors who are also leveraging AI to enhance their attacks.

For more, watch the video below for the discussion I had at RSA 2024 with BlackBerry Senior Vice President, Product Engineering and Data Science Shil Sircar, on this topic. Or keep reading for some of the key points uncovered in our conversation. 

Predictive AI: Anticipating Threats Before They Materialize

Predictive AI is a critical necessity in the field of cybersecurity. By analyzing historical and real-time data, predictive AI models can identify anomalies and low-signal indicators that might precede a cyberattack. The ability to infer these signals from a large volume of data is the holy grail for data scientists and cybersecurity experts alike. Cylance® AI is a pioneer in using predictive AI to protect organizations and a recent independent analysis reveals it still outperforms competitors.  

Key Benefits of Predictive AI:

  1. Early Threat Detection: Predictive AI helps in identifying potential threats before they fully develop, allowing organizations to take preventive measures.

  2. Resource Optimization: By focusing on high-risk areas, predictive AI enables cybersecurity teams to allocate resources more effectively.

  3. Reduced False Positives: Advanced algorithms that are carefully fine-tuned improve the accuracy of threat detection, minimizing the number of false positives and ensuring that critical threats are not overlooked. Check the Cylance false positives on VirusTotal.  

Practical Applications:

  • Behavioral Analysis: Tools that analyze user behavior to detect deviations from normal patterns, which may indicate a compromised account or insider threat.

  • Network Traffic Monitoring: Systems that scrutinize network traffic for unusual activity that could signify a breach or data exfiltration attempt.

Generative AI: Enhancing Defensive Capabilities

Generative AI, originally known for its ability to create content, is also making significant inroads in cybersecurity. These models can learn from extensive datasets to generate predictions and simulate potential attack scenarios. 

How Generative AI Works in Cybersecurity:

1. Learning Sequences and Probabilities: Generative AI models, such as those used in natural language processing (NLP), can understand sequences and predict probabilistic outcomes based on input data. 

2. Enhancing Machine Learning Models: Generative AI complements predictive models by providing enriched data that improves the accuracy and reliability of threat detection systems.

3. Speeding Response and Reducing Escalations: One example of this aspect can be seen in the contextually aware Cylance® Assistant. The generative AI tool is built directly into the Cylance console. Here is a sequence of how it works:

  • The alert appears on your Cylance dashboard.
  • With a click, in the same console, Cylance Assistant explains the significance of the threat, remediation steps, and where further investigation may be necessary.
  • There is no need to search for or guess at AI prompts; Cylance Assistant already understands the context of the situation and what you need to know.
  • This upskills junior analysts and reduces the number of escalations to senior analysts.

Watch the video below to see Cylance Assistant in action.

The AI Arms Race: Defenders vs. Threat Actors

AI advancements that empower defenders also equip threat actors with new tools and techniques. This creates an ongoing arms race where both sides continuously evolve to outsmart each other.

AI for Adversaries:

  • Automated Attack Planning: Threat actors use AI to design and execute attacks more efficiently, selecting the most effective methods based on data-driven insights.

  • Evasion Techniques: AI helps attackers develop advanced evasion techniques to bypass traditional cybersecurity measures. This trend helps drive an ongoing surge in novel malware. 

Integrating AI Into Your Cybersecurity Strategy

For cybersecurity professionals, integrating AI into your defense strategy is not just an option—it's a necessity. Here are some steps to effectively harness the power of AI in your organization:

  1. Invest in AI Training: Ensure that your team is well-versed in AI technologies and their applications in cybersecurity.

  2. Leverage Advanced Tools: Adopt AI-powered cybersecurity tools that offer a combination of predictive and generative capabilities.

  3. Evaluate Potential Solutions Based on Outcomes: Cybersecurity vendors make a wide variety of claims about AI in cybersecurity. To sort these out, ask about proven outcomes. Has the AI powered solution been independently tested? Does it have a low false positive rate? If it utilizes generative AI for analysts, is time-consuming context switching or prompt creation required?  

Embracing the Future of Cyber Defense

As we navigate the complexities of modern cybersecurity, AI stands as a critical ally in our efforts to protect sensitive data and maintain robust defense mechanisms. The integration of predictive and generative AI technologies provides a strategic advantage in anticipating and mitigating cyber threats. For cybersecurity professionals, embracing AI is not just about staying relevant—it's about leading the charge in the ongoing battle against cyber adversaries.

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Bruce Sussman

About Bruce Sussman

Bruce Sussman is Senior Managing Editor at BlackBerry.