Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) the Key to Cyber Security?

Digital threats are an ongoing concern for any person or business with internet connectivity. Even the best firewalls and virus protection cannot completely eliminate risk, and as business data is an increasingly important asset, companies are starting to look for more technologically advanced ways of protecting it.

British based IT firm, Darktrace, for example, is working on a new artificial intelligence-based software that uses advanced algorithms and mathematics to allow for the technology to learn and accurately predict normal usage patterns and detect anomalies for every individual user and each device on a given network. And believe it or not, the basis for their program comes from an unlikely source – the human immune system.

Our bodies are hit with countless threats every day, but for most healthy individuals we never notice because our immune systems are quick to act and are able to respond to threats without compromising ongoing function. Wouldn’t it be great if your IT security system could do the same thing?

Traditional antivirus software has relied on knowledge of existing malicious programs, including Trojans, ransomware, spyware, adware, keyloggers, rootkits and viruses and then used that information to detect, identify and ideally eliminate threats. The problem with that methodology is that attacks and cyber criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and much more difficult to detect if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. So when a new malevolent software hits the internet, it is usually hours – if not days – before the issue is identified, and by that time, numerous devices are already infected.

That’s where Darktrace’s new software comes into play. If it can detect even the slightest changes in a user or device’s normal activity, it can quickly respond and at a minimum it can take actions to quarantine or neutralize the infection while IT professionals figure out the details and a larger scale solution. A beta version of this software has been out for about a year, and was made available for wider release in April 2017. And while AI software certainly comes with a hefty price tag, the real question may be can your business afford to go without it when there’s so much at stake?

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