Artificial intelligence a valuable tool in combating cybercrime

Increasingly sophisticated threats require equally advanced responses, says expert

Artificial intelligence a valuable tool in combating cybercrime

Risk Management News

By Gabriel Olano

As society continues to advance technologically, criminals are becoming more sophisticated to keep up with the times. Globally, cybercrime is responsible for losses of almost US$600 billion, or almost 1% of the world’s GDP, according to a study led by McAfee.

With the ever-rising threat of cybercrime, organizations must always be prepared to prevent and detect cybercriminal activity or otherwise face huge financial and reputational losses. According to Sanjay Aurora (pictured), managing director for Asia-Pacific and Japan at cybersecurity firm Darktrace, no organization is 100% secure, and it would be futile to stop attackers from getting into digital environments.

Facing the new, levelled-up breed of cybercriminals, traditional security tools that rely on ‘known’ signatures are mostly obsolete, only working for low-level attacks.

“To fight back against a new era of attacks, it’s now essential to have an ‘immune system’ which recognizes what’s normal for organizations’ workforces and systems and understands when something strange happens,” Aurora told Corporate Risk and Insurance.

This is where artificial intelligence (AI) comes in. Two of Darktrace’s Cyber AI products, Enterprise Immune System and Antigena Email, have recently been designated as Marsh Cyber Catalyst solutions. These solutions can qualify for enhanced terms and conditions on cyber insurance policies offered by insurers participating in the Cyber Catalyst program, such as AXA XL, Allianz, AXIS and Beazley.

“AI-powered cyber defenses build a sense of self for the organization and stops the breadcrumbs of an attack from the inside,” Aurora said. “Crucially, the AI understands where threatening activity is happening, but it also knows how to stop the attack – in a way that is very targeted. This capability is called autonomous response, and it allows machines to fight back in real-time against attackers, thwarting an attack before damage is done.”

In the battle of man vs machine, machines win in terms of sheer number of tasks that can be accomplished. This, according to Aurora, means that merely scaling human teams cannot keep up with advances in cybercrime. Cybersecurity teams will need to adopt the next generation of cyber defenses which have the intelligence to act autonomously on behalf of humans.

“Today’s cyber-criminals are constantly innovating, deploying silent and stealthy attacks which persist at the heart of organizations,” he said. “Cyber AI is unique, in that AI plays a fundamental role in autonomously protecting, detecting, and responding to threats, acting as an immune system and force multiplier to the security operations center.” 

Aurora described the application of AI to cyber defense as a huge engineering feat. In the past seven years, capabilities have extended beyond autonomous threat detection to autonomous response technology which fights back on behalf of humans who simply cannot respond fast enough.

“AI has also automated the cyber-threat investigation with AI Analyst, generating reports that a CEO could understand – all in a matter of seconds. For Darktrace, this is just scratching the surface of a future where even red-teaming and cyber risk analysis will be executed by AI,” he said.

Such advanced AI-powered defenses also have significant implications for cyber insurance.

“For insurers, the integrity of data is paramount, making AI-powered defenses fundamental in mitigating the risks of data manipulation or destruction,” Aurora said. “Today, organizations need to be ready to contend with silent and deadly attackers, as well as the imminent weaponization of offensive AI. The Marsh designation serves as an early model for suggesting cyber defense technologies that will make a positive difference in companies’ cyber defense capabilities.”

In conclusion, Aurora believes that the cyber game has changed, and, in the new era of attacks, humans’ ability to respond is severely outpaced.

“AI is critical because it equips organizations to do more with the limited resources they have, and prevents early-stage threats from escalating into full-blown crises,” he said.

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