By: Phillip Durst
July 31, 2020
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in Cybersecurity
By: Phillip Durst
July 31, 2020
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are the hottest two topics in computer science today. So much so that, if you can think of a problem, someone has tried to solve that problem with AI and ML. In most cases, AI and ML are, in fact, the solution. Because of these algorithms’ success in so many fields, it’s only natural that AI and ML have found their way into the cybersecurity field. While the terms “machine learning” and “artificial intelligence” are often used interchangeably, ML is, in fact, just one type of AI. Forbes provides an excellent primer on AI, ML, and how they relate at https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2016/12/06/what-is-the-difference-between-artificial-intelligence-and-machine-learning/#36ce0a052742.
Put broadly, AI is defined as a branch of computer science that aims to give a machine the means to make decisions based on its environment (data). AI aims to give a computer facsimile of human cognition, meaning AI algorithms ingest information and make decisions based on how that algorithm interprets the data. Some of the ways AI is used in modern IT are:
- Virtual Assistants, like Siri or Alexa.
- Image classification, like medical image analyses.
- Big Data analytics, like generating business earnings reports.
- Song and movie recommendations, like the “Amazon for you” list.
ML is one type of AI algorithm and is defined as software made to look for patterns in massive data sets. ML ingests huge data sets, analyzes the data using statistics and pattern recognition, and executes a particular action based on its analysis. ML plays a major role in modern IT as:
- Spam and malware filtering.
- Search engine optimization.
- Fraud detection.
- Predicting and defeating cyber-attacks.
Why AI is the Future of Cybersecurity
The volume and complexity of cyber attacks a modern business faces are growing by the day. In fact, many cyber threats are themselves built on AI and ML. AI and ML can be used to analyze a company’s security practices and software, and then use these practices against them. Furthermore, the number of attacks happening in a given day far exceeds a human’s ability to address. Some level of intelligent automation is critical to detecting and classifying all these threats to lighten the cognitive load on human workers. Moreover, each threat's sophistication is such that a human analyst might take hours to days to unravel and defeat the threat, compared to the real-time performance of many AI and ML detection and classification algorithms.
Given the overwhelming number of attacks and the sophistication of the threats, cybersecurity practices must constantly improve. Cybersecurity workers need to stay on cutting-edge technology, tools, and best practices in security and threat detection. Right now, this cutting-edge is firmly directed towards AI and ML. Because AI and ML are new, emerging cybersecurity technologies, finding the right place to begin learning AI and ML can be confusing. A good introduction would be a course in cyber threat intelligence, such as "Intro to Data Science".
How AI is Used in Cybersecurity
Knowing that AI and ML must become an integral part of cybersecurity, IT departments are beginning to use these technologies. Uses for AI and ML for cybersecurity are just beginning to be discovered and implemented. Some of the novel applications for cybersecurity include:
- Analyzing Big Data to find patterns in cyber attacks.
- Identifying relationships between threats.
- Detecting and classifying threats in real-time.
- Learning how to quickly defeat novel threats through ML.
- Saving human time through rapid reasoning about threats.
Getting Started with AI for Cybersecurity
As these AI and ML technologies are rapidly advancing and changing, finding the right training in this field can be challenging. New cybersecurity workers are often lost when learning how to best use AI and ML in their careers. There are several online training opportunities for learning AI and ML.
Cybrary offers courses in cutting-edge cybersecurity techniques and AI applications to cybersecurity, from basic introductory classes such as Cyber Threat Intelligence to more advanced certification programs. For more information on Cybrary and where to begin using AI for cybersecurity today, sign up at https://www.cybrary.it/login/.