Last Call for Applying AI to Transform Your Cyber Defense


The Internet has become a giant digital conglomerate with ever-increasing devices from monster servers to the tiny Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Our communications in the networks have become complicated than ever before. There are cybercriminals and other threat actors continuously improve their tactics, means, and execution. When we enter the AI era, our conventional security technologies become useless in defending our cyberspace and digital assets because old security protection methods cannot detect the presence of the latest threats or provide effective defensive measures. Let’s discuss why traditional security strategies and framework do not work well against the next generation cyber-attacks and cyber threats, and how artificial intelligence can be used for securing our networks and protect our valuable digital assets.

When Conventional Cybersecurity breaks down

Besides the improved exploit kits that find vulnerabilities in a victim’s computer, there are zero-day exploits that take advantage of vulnerabilities for which no security update is yet available. Other threat actors are well-designed, well-planned, and well-executed, and they can persist in the network where traditional auto-start mechanism does not prevent them from activating after reboots. At the network level, there are self-propagating malware and buffer overflow attacks that can take down an entire network, but nowadays, the cybercriminals automate their attacks to be sparse instead of a full attack like the distributed denial-of-serve (DDoS) attacks. The bad guys stay undetected and move closer to the goal or commit the data exfiltration slowly day by day.  The decade’s old method of using the signature-based IDS detection is not useful for catching the newer threats because there are other techniques to circumvent the detection like code permutation, expanding and shrinking code, or just inserting a segment of garbage code, and at the end, it alters its signature to avoid detection.  We need a dynamic analysis of the malicious behaviors instead of static analysis that only looks at its appearance and code structure. For instance, let’s look into a critical metric of web traffic to identify suspicious behavior.  It is assumed that for normal web traffic, we should see there are six times of in traffic than out traffic on the data transfer for an organization. Consequently, if the web traffic ratio of 2:10, we need to be alert and investigate why there is a great outflow of data going out because there may be a data exfiltration in progress. In the present situation of rapidly growing cyber threats, we need to have a way of remembering normal behaviors for various key metrics, such as web traffic, DNS traffics, tracking the flow of certain program activities, and actively learn and identify abnormal and suspicious behaviors.  All these new threats have led us to a plethora of new cyber-weapons and tools were invented to fight against the new cyber threats.

Artificial Intelligence in Cybersecurity

To counteract the new cyber threats, we need to include AI cyber defense methods. By leveraging artificial intelligence technologies, we can create proactive detection systems that can learn malicious behaviors, identify vulnerabilities, and make own decision to react and destroy threat actors ahead of its destructive consequence.  There are numerous methods have been developed in the artificial intelligence fields used for cyber defense, and they often fall into these AI categories, such as expert systems, intelligent agents, neural nets, machine learning, data mining, and search. Natural language understanding and computer vision that belong to AI were once considered not useful for cyber defense have now been shown helpful in understanding the activities of cybercriminals from dark web vulnerability market or other sources since we have a multilingual Internet.  Let us look closer to how AI help us to build the up-to-date Security Operation Center (SOC).

The new machine learning tools can look into the firewall and block unauthorized traffic from entering the network and keep all logs of traffic and objects. It can have the abilities to study the historical events and be able to replay the events in sequence like a forensic investigation. With AI, the SOC can operate at speed and analyze massive data at a scale that human cannot comprehend. The intelligent security system becomes an essential weapon to counteract the rising development in threats and cyber-attack in the current cyberspace.

Cyber-attacks can happen at any endpoints from any vulnerabilities, the implementation of artificial intelligence can help us build a good defense system that can effectively coordinate various tasks with speed and effectiveness. It is difficult to think of how to keep up with today’s cyber threats if you only relied on conventional security techniques and methods. In any manner, without the AI in helping us to secure modern IT environment is an invitation for cyber-attacks.

If you like to explore more about what specific AI technologies are used for the cyber defense system, please read our article on “Examine the Artificial Intelligence Techniques Used for Cybersecurity.”

If you have any thoughts about using AI to protect our cyberspace or the article, I would love to hear what you have to say.  Thank you for reading.