AI can help cybersecurity—if it can fight through the hype

Walking the Enormous exhibition halls at the recent RSA security conference in San Francisco, you could have easily gotten the impression that digital defense was a solved problem. Amidst branded t-shirts and water bottles, each booth hawked software and hardware that promised impenetrable defenses and peace of mind. The breakthrough powering these new panaceas? Artificial intelligence that, the sales pitch invariably goes, can instantly spot any malware on a network, guide incident response, and detect intrusions before they start.

That rosy view of what AI can deliver isn’t entirely wrong. But what next-generation techniques actually do is more muddled and incremental than marketers would want to admit. Fortunately, researchers developing new defenses at companies and in academia largely agree on both the potential benefits and challenges. And it starts with getting some terminology straight.

“I actually don’t think a lot of these companies are using artificial intelligence. It’s really training machine learning,” says Marcin Kleczynski, CEO of the cybersecurity defense firm Malwarebytes, which promoted its own machine learning threat detection software at RSA. “It’s misleading in some ways to call it AI, and it confuses the hell out of customers.” ..Read More.. 

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