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  • Alka Asthana

Cyber Threats: AI - the sentry that never sleeps

Data breaches, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks

and malicious cyber-attacks are serious threats to not only our businesses but even to our very governments and democracies. The potential to cause harm is exponential. Very often we hear of ransomware holding hospitals hostage. Even police stations & municipal governments and power grids have fallen victim to these malicious attacks.

With billions of devices connecting everyday over the internet, the threat appears even more pervasive as these devices themselves can be commandeered to launch an attack. I have heard experts say, “if companies think they have not been hacked … then probably they are not looking hard enough”.

Though the picture appears bleak “the answer, my friend, is right in your hands (as the Aesop fable goes)”. Companies have huge swaths of data in their arsenal. When machine learning is applied to these seemingly disparate data a powerful story emerges. You could use this raw data to train the machines to detect any outliers or exceptions. Data that does not belong to any of the clusters very likely could be malicious. AI can parse and visualize this data in near real-time. The power behind the data cannot be overstated.

AI can quickly sift through this data (not humanly possible otherwise) and understand the cyber environment and detect anomalies. In turn, they can trigger appropriate responses and notifications. However hard cyber attackers may try to camouflage the malicious code (or its variant) within regular code, ML techniques can rather easily hunt them out. Are you reminded of the Hunt for Red October – seriously though - RIP Sean Connery! What a huge loss.

According to Forbes, Cisco reported that it had thwarted 7 trillion threats to its customers in a year using AI techniques. Bottom line is, AI can help mitigate cyber risks effectively. It is imperative that companies shore-up their governance, risk and compliance initiatives with cutting edge technologies; technologies that progressively learn from their experiences and are able to detect newer threats & neutralize them. A Bridge Not Too Far!

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