The surge in popularity of artificial intelligence (AI) and large language models (LLMs) in the corporate world, including Vertex and GPT-4, continues to bring up questions across different industries. Some thought the hype of AI would die down. However, the technology remains one of the most talked about and controversial topics in the world. Some have even condemned these types of software due to their ability to help users swiftly and accurately generate fraudulent content.

In cybersecurity, industry professionals worry that malicious actors can leverage AI’s capabilities to deploy the same advantage, using the technology’s ability to strengthen human-based cyber-attack techniques against employees, including social engineering-based techniques like baiting, scareware and phishing.

That being said, AI has been labeled, too often, the villain in cybersecurity, when in reality it also provides innovative capabilities that can boost security leaders’ cyber defense strategies. In fact, AI can assist with bolstering various zero-trust practices such as upleveling authentication and access control measures across an enterprise’s digital infrastructure. So, what exactly is AI’s potential in the cybersecurity world? Let’s dive into the technology’s capability to act as a double agent in cybersecurity – highlighting its potential for good and evil.

AI’s Potential for Evil

Malicious actors leveraging AI’s capabilities to enhance their attack methods is not a new concept. Recent updates within AI applications have made it significantly simpler for threat actors to execute successful attacks. By leveraging recent language models, hackers can outpace many organizations’ current security defenses and place tech stacks at risk in a few ways, including:

Elevated Offensive Attacks In addition to accelerating the effectiveness of human-based attacks, AI can also supply hackers with various offensive methods. As an example, Cyolo has recently witnessed instances where threat actors are using AI to help craft more sophisticated attacks. This is achieved by providing an LLM with multiple different prompts about the circumstances the threat actors are meeting. The LLM then provides techniques and ideas that can be leveraged to execute an offensive strike.

The need for a comprehensive and proactive approach to security within organizations is crucial to protecting against advanced AI-based threats – especially as modern attack methods are already testing the limits of traditional security strategies.

Advanced Social Engineering Attacks – By implementing AI into their attack strategies, cybercriminals unlock new capabilities that enhance common social engineering attack methods, such as the popular phishing technique.

As human-centric cyberattacks continue to rise, it’s crucial for organizations to implement modern identity-based management strategies, including zero-trust practices, to eliminate the risk of critical employee and company data being leveraged to initiate destructive breaches.

Information Leakage Risks – Aside from the external threats AI poses to organizations’ infrastructures, LLMs can also be leveraged to intentionally or unintentionally breach sensitive internal data. As an example, an employee eager to take part in the “hype” of modern LLMs, might unintentionally leak sensitive company information – sharing classified data to streamline their work.

As LLMs continue to evolve, companies will need to closely monitor the use of AI-related tools and create new controls across internal and external users – ensuring that all critical data remains secure inside and outside of the company’s perimeter.

Now that we’ve touched on a few of the risks AI technologies pose to enterprises’ tech stack, let’s take a look at how industry leaders can use this technology to strengthen their cyber defense strategies.

AI’s Potential for Good

LLMs continue to evolve, and they have the potential to be used within defense fields including incident response, application security, compliance, infrastructure and many more. In fact, the current market growth rate for AI in cybersecurity is valued at USD 22.4 Billion and is anticipated to skyrocket to USD 60.6 Billion by 2028.

Currently, AI can be implemented in a host of modern security practices, especially the ones that have zero-trust architectures. More specifically, security leaders can leverage AI-enabled tools to improve high-risk identity management capabilities, including:

Improved Authentication Accuracy – While modern authentication methods, such as MFA, have bolstered identity protection, hackers have expanded their techniques as well – using tools like AI to strengthen their traditional attack methods.

The accelerated risk threat actors pose places an imperative on security leaders to adopt high-risk identity tools that continuously stay one step ahead of cybercriminals and enable accurate, continuous authentication. Enterprises can uplevel their employee identity protection efforts through modern AI-enabled authentication abilities, including monitoring and recording login attempts, automatically assessing a network’s risk score and quickly pinpointing the geographical locations of connected devices.

Enhanced Access ControlVerizon’s 2023 Data Breach Report revealed that 74% of all breaches involved a human element (i.e. stolen credentials, social engineering attacks). With accelerating rates of compromised employee data, organizations’ integration of identity-based security measures is critical. Fortunately, the automation capabilities of AI can be integrated to improve access control measures – making them increasingly dynamic. This can be accomplished by using AI to automate incident investigation and response processes – recognizing user behaviors and patterns with more accuracy. This enables the alerting and blocking of any uncharacteristic attempt to access critical assets.

AI’s Future in Cybersecurity

Both the risks and rewards of AI are exponentially increasing, and as more businesses generate, invest in and integrate advanced AI technologies, there is no sign of AI adoption decelerating. Because of this, it is crucial for enterprises to stay up to date with the latest developments in AI technology and learn how these tools can be used to improve their cybersecurity postures. By doing so, they can both leverage the benefits of AI and effectively mitigate its potential risks – improving their overall security posture.

With up-to-date knowledge of modern threats and advancements within the industry, businesses can remain competitive, ultimately increasing user satisfaction and accelerating customer growth.