How AI can Help Solve the Cyber Skills Gap
The cyber security skills gap is the mounting shortage of cyber security professionals.
There’s an ever-growing threat of cyber attacks to businesses and the shortage of cyber security skills is seen as making the number of data breaches worse.
The International Information System Security Certification Consortium’s Cybersecurity Workforce Study from 2019 estimates the gap between the currently employed 2.8 million cyber security professionals in 11 major world economies and the total number needed is around 4 million. It states that Europe alone has a demand of nearly 300,000.
Will AI solve cyber security challenges?
So, what’s AI capable of and how can it help?
The idea of AI-enabled programs is that they can collect data, analyse it, make a decision (understanding the outcomes), and learning from the results for next time.
As data becomes integral to our daily lives and businesses, data breaches have become more common. From stolen passwords to incorrect IT system configuration, and from malware to social engineering, there are many causes of data breaches.
And the number of cyber attacks is on the increase.
You don’t need to be a skilled programmer anymore to get in on the cyber crime game – there are plenty of off-the-shelf plug-and-play hacking products available.
AI can help though.
AI can help identify security vulnerabilities by analysing user behaviour and recognising patterns and irregularities.
It can detect, monitor, notify and act.
It can digest, for example, a huge volume of data from across an organisation’s applications and systems. This can then be used to establish what’s normal behaviour. If there’s a significant deviation, then it’s flagged up. Much quicker than human monitoring.
AI systems can learn to detect and predict ransomware and malware attacks, for example, before they enter the system. They can then be isolated from the system and dealt with before becoming a full-fledged attack.
AI can also help with routine security tasks, analyse and monitor multiple endpoints, and eliminate zero-day vulnerabilities.
How AI can help the cyber security skills gap.
The widespread shortage of skilled cyber security professionals can leave many organisations open to the increased risk of a security incident. They simply don’t have the number of professionals available to effectively investigate all discovered suspicious behaviour and alerts thoroughly.
AI can help with this understaffing issue.
Although, it must be said that operating and managing AI systems itself requires expertise. This may need to come from recruiting or further training for existing staff.
Even so, the sheer volume of data and speed with which AI can analyse and respond to makes it an indispensable tool for your IT security team.
- AI can take over routine repetitive tasks.
AI technology can identify the class of a malware attack and determine how critical it is, what the risk is and prioritise accordingly. It can then automatically build appropriate remediation steps that can be carried out.
AI is especially good at dealing with routine, repetitive tasks that support human activity.
- AI cyber security threat hunting.
A malware database with machine learning can detect malware threats whether it’s an existing or modified malware. The system can then block it based on previous events flagged as malicious.
Threat hunting can adapt and evolve with AI systems. AI systems can be trained to detect continuously evolving threats from ransomware and malware attacks and adapt accordingly.
- AI automates incident reporting.
Cyber security incident response is a critical aspect of how organisations manage their cyber security requirements.
AI-based incident response automation makes it much easier to resolve more incidents at greater speed, in less time and with less effort for your valuable cyber security team members. Again, freeing them up for other critical tasks.
Organisations, businesses and academic institutions all must invest in creating a new generation of professionals with competencies in AI and ML. Companies need to upskill existing professionals and attract those in other careers.
AI is a major defence against growing cyber crimes, so it’s vital the skills gap doesn’t widen. The hackers aren’t going anywhere, and their AI tools are getting more sophisticated. So, cyber security must respond and not let the gap widen further, or the threat of AI-assisted cyber attacks becomes even greater.
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