As reported in an article dated February 2022 by Silicon Republic, Europe is facing a shortage of cybersecurity professionals with “Ireland needing around 10,000 infosec workers to plug the gap and Europe as a whole needing close to 200,000”. Our team at Sparkd wondered if the application of AI in cybersecurity could help address this issue.
Do we believe that AI can replace cybersecurity professionals? Absolutely not. We believe that while companies invest in training new cybersecurity experts, AI could help maximise the effort of those already working in the field. In fact, AI applications can be implemented to speed up tasks which would otherwise be very time consuming for humans to carry out, leaving more time for cybersecurity experts to deal with the most dangerous cyber threats.
To better explain why we believe AI could partly make up for the shortage of cybersecurity professionals, at least in the short term, we analysed 4 use cases of AI in cybersecurity. We then used the AI value matrix to assess the benefits these use cases could bring to a cybersecurity team in terms of optimisation of existing human resources.
4 Use Cases of AI in cybersecurity
There are many examples of how AI is used in cybersecurity. In this article we present 4 Uses cases which we think could help companies make the most out of their existing cybersecurity team, while on the lookout for extra staff. The 4 use cases are:
- Network security/ vulnerability detection
- Cyber threat detection
- Compliance analysis.
- Case management
Network security/ vulnerability detection
With remote working on the rise since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, ensuring the security of a company’s network has become an even bigger challenge. Despite the wide variety of antivirus and VPN softwares available on the market, new kinds of malware and ransomware keep popping up at an alarming rate. So much so that vendors are not always able to promptly implement updates to respond to these new threats. It is therefore important to prevent cyber attacks by ensuring that all the devices connected to your network are equipped with the highest possible level of security. AI is able to monitor all the endpoints within your network and flag those which could be easy entry points for cyber threats.
2. Cyber threat detection
AI is able to analyse all the data travelling in and out of your network and detect if it represents a cyber threat. Once a cyber threat has been detected, the AI algorithm can be instructed to take specific actions and/ or report the issue to your cybersecurity professionals for them to address it. In doing so, the AI algorithm identifies real threats from false positives, allowing your cybersecurity team to focus only on real threats.
3. Compliance analysis
Experienced cybersecurity analysts can investigate incidents, detect weak links within your cyberspace, and help the organisation comply with government regulations. However, this process requires a considerable amount of time, which your company might not be able to afford. Even more so if your cybersecurity department is understaffed. AI algorithms can carry out the same tasks in considerably less time, which therefore adds value and resources to your company’s cybersecurity team.
4. Case management
AI can help your team manage the workflow of cybersecurity cases throughout your organisation, and can manage tasks which are usually very time consuming for employees to carry out. By automating your case management system, you will save time, costs, and resources, and your cybersecurity experts will be able to focus on the most pressing issues.
What AI application(s) will bring more value to my cybersecurity team?
Provided that each company has different needs and priorities, AI can bring value to your cybersecurity team in many different ways. The question is, how can you understand which AI application could be more valuable to your company?
The first step in understanding if and how AI can help your team is to carry out an analysis of your needs and resources. When doing so, keep in mind that AI has two main purposes:
- Complete tasks which are very time consuming for humans to carry out
- Complete tasks which humans cannot carry out at all
In order to simplify this assessment process, we use a tool called AI Value Matrix. You can download this tool here and read more about it here. We used the AI Value Matrix to assess what value the 4 Use Cases of AI in cybersecurity presented in this article could bring to a potential company. As part of our assessment, we assumed the company has not yet implemented AI to improve their cybersecurity strategy and that their cybersecurity team is understaffed. We also assumed that the company’s priority is maximising human resources while efficiently protecting the company from cyber threats. You can find the results of our assessment in the infographic below, where:
- UC1 = Network security/ vulnerability detection
- UC2 = Cyber threat detection
- UC3 = Compliance analysis
- UC4 = Case management
- The green quadrant (T1) displays the area where AI can bring significant value to the company
- The red quadrant (T4) indicates the area where AI brings the least value, indicating that these tasks can be handled quite well by humans
- The orange quadrants (T2 and T3) represent areas where AI can still bring value, but not as much as the application displayed in quadrant T1
Following this assessment, we can safely say that implementing AI to detect cyber threats is the best AI solution for a company which needs to maximise their human resources while addressing one of their main cybersecurity challenges.
Can AI help address the shortage of cybersecurity professionals in Europe?
Yes. AI can definitely help address the shortage of cybersecurity professionals. As we mentioned before, AI will never replace cybersecurity experts, but it can help them focus on important challenges by allowing AI to complete tasks which are too complex or time consuming for staff. In Ireland and in other European countries, colleges and other educational institutions responded to the high demand for cybersecurity professionals by implementing a wide range of cybersecurity courses. At the same time, companies are investing in upskilling their existing staff in cybersecurity. But there still remains a problem right now that needs an immediate solution. These initiatives will bring results in the medium-long term, but most companies cannot afford to wait for the next generation of cybersecurity experts to graduate. AI could offer a viable and relatively fast solution for all the companies in need of extra cybersecurity expertise in the short term.
Author Manuela Armini