How Generative AI Will Transform Cybersecurity
Microsoft announced last week that, just as it did with .NET years ago, it would put generative AI into everything, including security.
Back in the .NET days, I joked that Microsoft was so over the top with .Net that the bathrooms were renamed Men.net and Women.net. Many of these efforts didn’t make much sense. However, since generative AI is impacting most of Microsoft’s business (except bathrooms), it makes more sense for the company to do so now than it did then.
Let’s explore the impact of generative AI on security. Then we’ll finish with my product of the week: the road-legal bespoke BAC Mono track car.
The greatest security exposure…is you
We often get too excited about all the technology we have to mitigate breaches. But after layer upon layer of security software to identify and fix flaws, the one constant is that the most common cause of a flaw is a person. Ransomware attacks, identity theft, data theft, and a number of additional issues mostly trace back to someone who was tricked into leaking information that was used to do harm.
The industry talks about regular employee training, security drills and audits, and extreme penalties, all of which have had minimal impact on the problem because companies don’t practice them consistently and effectively. I include security companies, especially their executives, in this group, who often seem to think that the rules they helped create don’t apply to them.
Back when I was doing security audits (at a company known for security) on a CEO who often bragged that he knew more about security than anyone else in my division, I was able to access his most sensitive information that was in a locked safe within 10 minutes. Not by using some super secret James Bond hacking technology, but by looking in his secretary’s drawer where all the keys were stored, which was unlocked.
Human error is the biggest and most prevalent cause of some of our most painful security problems, and it has been that way for decades.
HP PC Security Solutions
I’m writing this at HP’s Amplify partner event, where HP just launched its security solution. HP’s Wolf Security is arguably the best PC security solution on the market.
HP pointed out that the security business generates $8 trillion in revenue, a fraction of the money it protects. Still, all that technology is worthless if you can’t stop an employee from doing something stupid.
HP technology includes virtual machines, BIOSes, protection, and some of the most impressive security solutions I’ve seen, but that’s only for someone who accidentally misplaces or loses a PC. It does not deal with an employee who intentionally or accidentally violates his own protection.
An exception is HP Sure Click which helps prevent a user from clicking on a link they shouldn’t. Sure Click isolates risky actions in a virtual environment so that damage does not escape from an isolated virtual machine to cause damage. This effort goes a long way. However, while HP does more than most, it’s still not enough.
Examples of Why We Need AI Security
One of the biggest issues I’ve ever addressed is a CIO who was fired over email. He was so angry that he used his credentials to reformat all of his ex-company’s hard drives, effectively decommissioning them. Yes, he was prosecuted for poverty and went to jail, but that didn’t help the business he closed.
In another massive breach, an attacker used stolen credentials with undisputed access to a company’s HR system and created a global email that was sent to all non-executive employees telling them that the company had been sold and that to get their latest checks, employees had to provide their bank details.
Almost all employees gave their information before anyone thought to ask a manager about it. By the time the effort was stopped, the attacking servers were offline and the thieves were long gone.
These examples show successful exploits that allegedly bypassed HP’s Wolf Security. One because it was a physical breach with no laptop involved and the other because of a phishing attack that resulted in an HR system being accessed and compromised that Wolf Security would not protect. not.
I’m not picking on HP here, because neither HP nor any other technology company can effectively solve an employee-related problem yet. But this is where AI potentially comes into play.
AI to the rescue: From BlackBerry to Microsoft
Microsoft’s Security Copilot initially aims to provide security professionals with real-time information about current and potential breaches so they can be quickly mitigated. This should help solve the persistent problem of lack of security personnel and resources. This is the initial goal of most of these generative AI efforts: to increase productivity and reduce employee burdens.
However, the real promise of generative AI is that it can learn from employee behavior, and by learning from that behavior, it can mitigate it. On a large scale, the only company that has taken aggressive action against this employee exposure with older AI technology is BlackBerry’s Cylance unit.
BlackBerry’s technology monitors employees and will block anyone who appears to be behaving in an unusual way, such as a service professional who suddenly begins downloading employee or company product development files – an indication that an attacker was using his credentials.
Generative AI can go much further and potentially go faster. Using huge models, generative AI can predict future behavior, identify employees who regularly violate company policies (indicating they are more likely to act inappropriately), and can recommend corrective actions ranging from recurring automated training to dismissal for employees most likely to be the cause. of a breach, eliminating potential issues before an event.
Now, before you get mad about the “termination” part, know that if these employees cause a violation, the remedies include not only termination, but also financial costs to the employee or even jail time based of the nature and extent of the breach. So even for the terminated employee, this remedy is better than what would likely have happened otherwise.
Conclusion: Generative AI and the Future of Security
AI is on the safe side, starting with BlackBerry and ending with Microsoft’s most recent effort. The result is the potential eventual elimination of our most important security exposure: people. As generative AI and other future forms of AI advance toward security, we will finally have the opportunity to mitigate the one security issue that continues to gnaw at our ass: ourselves.
As with other technologies, I expect that IT will be slow to adopt these tools and the resulting avoidable flaws will forever change much of our career paths and financial security.
AI will not only help protect our businesses, but those we love, including ourselves. Note that the people who need this protection the most are our aging population who bad actors often trick into giving up their retirement funds due to breaches like this.
The only question is whether AI security will be deployed before this same technology is used against us. AI is neither good nor bad; it is a tool. Unfortunately, in cybersecurity, new technologies are too often used more quickly against us than for us.
Custom-built, street-legal BAC Mono track car
Since we’re talking about AI this week, two weeks ago Nvidia held their GTC conference, where I saw Nvidia’s vision of a car that would be first created virtually and then custom built to your needs and your specific tastes.
The BAC Mono car is an early example of how the rest of the car market will evolve. Using advanced workstation tools from HP, BAC created a process that mirrors what Nvidia talked about.
I sold my track car a few years ago, and I miss it. But generally, a track car is an older sports car or a hot hatch that you then drive down the track. These cars are designed for everyday driving and aren’t ideal for the track – and dedicated track cars require you to tow them.
Dedicated track cars that are also street legal are rare and very expensive, and customization is limited. Using metaverse and VR technologies, the latter can be modified. Not only can the car be more personalized, but it can also be built faster, tested virtually, and better suited to pass changing regulations for driving on public roads.
With a price tag of $151,000, the BAC Mono isn’t for the faint of heart, but it will outperform supercars on the track that cost significantly more. It’s designed to help you hit your corners efficiently and will draw a crowd similar to what a supercar can at a fraction of the price.
BAC Mono | Image credit: Briggs Automotive Company
It may not impress your date, given that he has a seat, but in most supercars, your date will stop being impressed once he tries to get into the car without providing an opportunity of involuntary photo.
Plus, because it’s a track car, you’ll be less motivated to do stupid things, which often seem to define supercar drivers (YouTube has thousands of videos of supercar drivers doing expensive, stupid things ).
Not only is the BAC Mono a forerunner of how we’ll buy cars in the future, but I’m craving it too, so it’s my product of the week.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ECT News Network.
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