In October 2015, technology research giants, Gartner, reported its predictions about the growth and benefits of artificial intelligence in business. The adoption of automated processes in the commercial world has seen an exponential rise in uptake and the findings of the research suggest that, by 2018:
● One in five pieces of business content will be automatically authored;
● 3 million workers worldwide will be directly supervised by a ‘cyberboss’;
● 2 million employees will be required, as part of their contract, to wear health and fitness tracking devices;
● so called ‘digital customer assistants’ will be capable of recognizing clients by voice and/or face recognition.
Their research goes on to suggest that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will take place without requiring any human contact.
There is no doubt that the rise of digital aids across the business world has, and will continue to see, huge benefits both in cost and customer experience but what about security and reliability?
In the same year that Gartner unveiled its forecast for the digital growth of AI, the commercial world suffered, perhaps, its worst twelve months of security breaches. From eBay to Sony, Experian to the US Government last year was costly in both a financial sense but also in terms of consumer trust. The bottom line is, cybercrime is also growing at a unprecedented rate so how, with so much more of our business practices becoming automated across digital platforms, can we be confident in security measures?
The answer may lie in the development of the existing benefits of artificial intelligence in business.
Cybersecurity experts, Darktrace, has suggested that the war against cybercrime could be more effective by automated defense systems that are closely designed on the human immune system. They draw some interesting parallels, likening the skin as the first line of defense like the firewall employed to protect a network; adaptive, robust and flexible to change, the firewall can prevent simple external probing but, alone, is not enough to protect us from harm.
If a firewall is penetrated then the network becomes vulnerable, relying on early detection to mitigate damage and isolate the infiltration; however, if a biological virus infects the human body then the immune system goes into hyperdrive to protect the body. Deploying antibodies, enzymes and a whole host of other weaponry, the immune system can deal with simple viruses to complex pathogens, often with little or no help and without our knowledge. In order to do so effectively the whole process requires knowledge of our body’s normal state and the immune system monitors billions of molecules; when even a single one is not functioning within ‘normal’ parameters then biological warfare is initiated.
Darkspace believes that the future of cybersecurity rests on the ability to mimic a digital environment in which the immune system is replicated by artificial intelligence to ‘police’ networks, users and, ultimately, clamp down on ‘infections’.
The benefit of artificial intelligence to business security is clear, technology has advanced to incorporate the deep learning required to replicate the immune system. Running silently in the background a cyber-immune system can monitor system processes, user activity and network interfaces for several weeks before it is can build-up a knowledge bank of what is ‘normal’. Once it has done so, it is able to raise alarms on any activity is deems suspicious using algorithms which take the probability and level of risk into account to reduce the amount of false positives.
The system can also detect any intruders and lead them into a ‘honeytrap’ to divert the attacker from sensitive data but also to observe their behavior in this artificially created ‘protected’ area. In doing so the cyber-immune system is capable of threat reduction, breach prevention and learning how to improve its defenses.
Whilst the design of current systems have their flaws, including autoimmune responses such as incorrectly identifying core code as a malicious threat the benefits of artificial intelligence in business practices becoming more secure is clear.