Can AI bridge the 4 million cyber security professionals gap needed worldwide?
Cybersecurity and IT personnel must acknowledge the fact that AI-based automation is here to stay and adapt their skill set and expertise to leverage AI, writes Moshe Karako
Several factors are driving the growing demand for cybersecurity technology, tools, and services.
Firstly, Covid-19 has driven many organizations into implementing a remote work environment allowing employees, customers, and suppliers to massively connect to the organization IT infrastructure from off-premises locations using uncontrolled equipment such as home routers, mobile devices and public networks. Some organizations were even driven into a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) methodology in the effort to cope with employees that are now connecting from their homes.
To support remote working, many organizations are moving to the cloud as they found that a cloud environment brings huge organizational and logistical benefits in the forms of flexibility, scalability, rapid deployment, global load management, and more.
As a result, the attack surface of businesses has grown exponentially, as has the ways to gain access to an organization’s digital assets compared to the ‘old style’ LAN and on-premises servers' infrastructure.
An additional factor that is impacting the cybersecurity world is the increasing number of cybercrimes due to the remote nature of these crimes, the rising usage of cryptocurrency and the easy access to sophisticated hacking platforms such as ‘malware-as-a-service’ that is now as easy to get to as accessing this article.
To cope with the growing business risk, organizations have been looking to increase the amount of security personnel and their level of expertise they require in order to cope with the increasing numbers and complexity of cyber threats across a wider attack surface. As demand has increased, a skills shortage has emerged. This has led to a sharp rise in expected salary and job shifting has become more common and frequent for cybersecurity experts. Even junior candidates are hired, sometimes with a near-zero experience, to support the growing need for SOC personal, security operations, and security analysts as the shortage increases.
One of the ways to address the skills shortage in the cybersecurity department is to introduce automation. This is not an easy task and requires expertise, but the good news is that teams of experts can be hired for a specific period of time to help with introduction and implementation or as a managed security service, as opposed to a permanent and full-time part of the organization’s headcount and budget. Automation of some elements of cybersecurity and IT operations can be a good solution for bridging the human resource gap. However, automation on its own still requires a high level of adaptation to each organization. It can also be costly and requires continuous maintenance as the organization and threats evolve.
Here comes artificial intelligence (AI) to the help. By implementing AI and machine learning (ML) algorithms, a more self-adapting and independent security solution can be built. AI brings four benefits to the table:
- Faster reaction to changes both in the organization’s environment and changes in the type and volume of attacks
- Rapid real-time response to threats as less human decision-making is needed on the response path.
- Reduction to the number and impact of human errors
- Lower security operational costs as solutions can be reuse across organizations,
It's critical to remember that although it seems that automation and AI could replace cybersecurity or IT personnel, this is not the case. The human factor will always be a crucial part of the cybersecurity frontline as creativity and out-of-the-box thinking remain a major part of the ‘minds game’ against cybercriminals. Humans need to help anticipate and validate activity, findings, and actions.
Together with that, cybersecurity and IT personnel must acknowledge the fact that AI-based automation is here to stay and adapt their skills set and expertise to leverage AI, machine learning, and automation to support the business’s cyber-resilience against rising cyberattacks, keeping in mind that the same AI and automation technologies are available to the attackers’ side as well.
It can be a huge investment to build your own AI, machine learning, and automation capabilities.
Moshe Karako serves as the Chief Technology Officer of NTT Innovation Laboratory Israel, whose mission is to leverage Israel’s cutting-edge technology to support the evolution of NTT and customer businesses and promote innovation and digital transformation.