The AI Edge


Who has the upper hand in cybersecurity?

Remember the classic cartoon Tom and Jerry? The ongoing battle between two rivals where one is always trying to get the other and any success is short lived. The minute Tom thinks he’s won, Jerry strikes back. Then Tom comes up with another crafty scheme to try get Jerry. It’s the never-ending playoff that makes the cartoon so entertaining.

While it’s no laughing matter, cybersecurity is a lot like that cartoon. The advantage is always flipping depending on who has made the first or last move. Teams are constantly kept on their toes, working to identify vulnerabilities, developing patches, and trying to keep ahead by figuring out what threat actors will target next, and how.


Can AI provide an advantage?

There’s potential for AI to change this and give cybersecurity teams the edge by identifying patterns and potential threats much quicker. In cybersecurity, this could give teams the upper hand to shut down attacks before major damage is inflicted.

Or from a less optimistic perspective, AI could also make maintaining cybersecurity even more challenging. Think deep fakes or AI generated phishing emails. Obvious errors that usually trigger an alert will be harder to spot.

To find out what professionals in the world of cybersecurity think about AI, our colleagues at CyberEdge recently conducted a survey. 1200 IT security professionals, across 19 industries, in 17 countries were asked three key questions relating to AI:

  1. How does AI benefit security teams?
  2. How does AI benefit threat actors?
  3. Who has the upper hand?

The results of the survey are contained in CyberEdge’s 2024 Cyberthreat Defense Report. Here are our top takeaways:


What do security professionals stand to gain from AI?

Of the key advantages that AI offers, speed and scale are major factors, and this was reflected in the survey results. 56% of respondents believe that AI will offer an advantage in being able to detect and block threats. 49.5% believe that AI can improve their ability to respond to threats.

Keeping in mind that IT teams are often stretched in their capacity to maintain secure networks and systems, more than 40% believe that AI can help them work more efficiently. This can help ease the pressure on IT security teams by improving how they research potential threats and new threat actor strategies. This is vital considering how threat actors are also leveraging AI to their advantage.


Threat actor advantages provided by AI

With AI being made available to everyone, the same features can be used by both sides. What security teams identify as a vulnerability, threat actors flag as a weakness.

AI’s ability to quickly identify misconfigurations, missing patches, and more can make it easier to identify what to target. Additionally, AI’s ability to generate code, write more convincing phishing emails and target multiple weaknesses at once, adds to the difficulty of keeping ahead of threats. More than 37% of IT security professionals believe that AI will fuel the volume and sophistication of attacks. This is very concerning especially with the ability to identify zero-day vulnerabilities.


Will AI be the tipping point?

Reviewing these factors, it’s possible that the advantage can go either way. Does that mean that AI will feature more strongly in security teams’ arsenals? If it doesn’t, teams may find themselves at an even greater disadvantage.

This is reflected in the responses from the survey where 40% believed that AI offers benefits to both sides, so Tom and Jerry’s game continues. Security professionals appear to be more confident that AI can help them more than it can threat actors but in reality, that remains to be seen.


The 2024 Cyber Defense Report dives into this in much more detail and is well worth a read. Reflecting perspectives of IT professionals engaged in security battles on a daily basis, it shares a real-world view of how cybersecurity is evolving and what role AI may play in the future. Download your complimentary copy today.

Thanks again to our friends at CyberEdge (shout out to Steve) for pulling together this great report.


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