A recent article by the leading US media CNBC outlines the negative impact generative AI is already having on the cybersecurity landscape. Among the many ways A.I. is being used by bad actors around the globe, specialists list easier and more authentic-looking phishing attacks, fortified capabilities of hackers, and a greater scale of the attacks.

How can AI improve cybersecurity?

“AI makes the bad attacker a more proficient attacker”, said Stephen Boyer, co-founder, and chief technology officer of cyber risk management firm BitSight. But A.I. also has the ability to make “the OK defender a really good defender.”

Boyer said AI will enable engineers writing code to automatically check for vulnerabilities, resulting in more secure code. “There are tools that do that now, but AI is going to speed it up incredibly,” he said.

Amplified Speed and Scale

In fact, using AI to amplify speed and scale in cybersecurity is among the biggest benefits experts see coming in the near term.

Using the technology for tasks that are difficult and time-consuming will be a huge benefit for CISOs, said Michael McNerney, chief security officer at cyber insurance company Resilience. “Taking inventory of all your devices, all end-points, and applications is very complex, laborious, and, quite frankly, a pain. I can see a future where AI helps a CISO get the lay of the land and helps them understand their network quickly and thoroughly,” he said.

He added that since so much of cybersecurity is hygiene, using AI to help streamline tasks that are well-understood and highly repetitive would be of tremendous value.

Some of the Challenges Ahead

“We still have a lot of people in AI companies around the world that are going to continue to abuse the system, that are going to continue to develop the technology without adequate legal or ethical rules in place.”, says Boyer.

For the foreseeable future, cyber experts say a company’s best defense is an “all-hands-on-deck scenario” where CISOs work with the board, the chief risk officer and the CEO to determine how — and when — AI is deployed across the organization. “Just two months ago, OpenAI suffered a data breach hack, so if they’re vulnerable, one CISO in a company isn’t going to be able to handle the complications and potential risks of AI,” Walke said.

In the meantime, it’s important to keep AI and its potential impact in context. “We’re at the peak of the hype cycle but I also think that’s natural,” McNerney said. “We have a very exciting, very powerful emerging technology that few people truly understand. I think over the next year, cyber leaders are going to figure out where AI is really useful and where it’s not.”

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