AI is everywhere, ‘oh yes it is’

AI is everywhere, ‘oh yes it is’

Panto is a Christmas tradition for our family. Every year, for as long as I can remember, we’ve embraced each predictable element of the British institution that transforms theatres across the country over the festive season.

This year, there was a new addition to the stage to take Hereford’s Dick Whittington firmly into the future – an AI robot. Central to the unconventional plot, with a nod to the classic Wizard of Oz tale, was a quest to find a ‘heart’ for the AI.

Pantomime might seem an unlikely starting point for a column dedicated to cybersecurity (and we are still some way from the sophisticated AI that was in the cast line-up this year) but we can safely say that AI really is everywhere – and cybersecurity is set to bear both the brunt and the benefits of this technology.

Many industry experts are calling AI a ‘double-edged sword’ for the cybersecurity community. While it can rapidly identify threat anomalies and strengthen cyberdefences, it is also being wielded by malicious actors. The rising simplicity with which attacks can be executed poses a growing concern, as highlighted by Curtis Simpson, CISO at Armis, in his Intelligent CISO article last month.

Recent research released by Nutanix also highlighted the challenges faced by EMEA organisations in 2024 when it comes to AI data security, scale and management.

The company’s global research study, State of Enterprise AI Report, provided insights into enterprise decision-making around AI, highlighting that for most organisations it is a strategic priority.

Commenting on the research, Sammy Zoghlami, SVP EMEA at Nutanix, said the survey uncovered an important theme among enterprises adopting AI solutions: a growing requirement for data governance and data mobility across data centre, cloud and edge infrastructure environments making it even more important for organisations to adopt a platform to run all apps and data across clouds.

With AI firmly on the agenda, a PwC report explored regional nuances further. The organisation’s CEO Survey, published at the World Economic Forum in Davos, found that Chief Executives in the UK are adopting GenAI at a much faster rate than their peers.

According to the research, 42% stated they had implemented the technology in the last year compared with 32% of CEOs globally.

A total of 4,702 CEOs in 105 countries were surveyed, with the UK at the front of the pack both in Europe and beyond. The only countries that have adopted GenAI faster than the UK are Japan, where 50% of CEOs say they have done so, along with Norway (53%) and Finland (49%).

However, UK CEOs are also more mindful of the risks – 73% cite cybersecurity risks as the top unintended consequence of GenAI compared to 64% global CEOs. A total of 59% of UK CEOs say that GenAI could increase the spread of misinformation, compared to 52% of Global CEOs. However, the US remains more concerned about this particular risk (63% of CEOs), whereas those in China are much less concerned (25% of CEOs).

It’s clear from the research that AI is impacting organisations across all industries and geographies, and the benefits will be transformational, though the risks are visible.

But there is a silver lining because, just as attackers are leveraging this technology, so too are the defenders. Avkash Kathiriya, Sr. VP – Research and Innovation at Cyware, noted how one vendor is providing new tools to help defenders.

He highlighted that Microsoft is changing the AI game for the security industry, introducing strategic AI features which will enhance the analyst experience and increase the cohesive nature of the security ecosystem. Advances like this are crucial to help incident response times and accuracy, he said.

Mike Hanley, CSO and SVP of Engineering, GitHub, also recently told Intelligent CIO APAC that, used effectively, AI can help prevent vulnerabilities from being written in the first place – radically transforming the security experience.

And Fortinet, a global cybersecurity leader driving the convergence of networking and security, recently added Fortinet Advisor, a generative AI (GenAI) assistant, to its portfolio of more than 40 AI-powered offerings.

AI has served as the backbone of the Fortinet Security Fabric and FortiGuard Labs threat intelligence and security services for more than a decade, and the implementation of GenAI is Fortinet’s latest innovation designed to protect customers and keep business operations online.

These are just some examples of how AI is being leveraged by the cybersecurity community to get ahead of attackers – and there will be doubtless more examples to emerge throughout the year.

And so, just as our Christmas panto blended tradition and innovation, this year it will be crucial for the cybersecurity landscape to adapt and embrace the changes we’re seeing in the digital world. In an ever-evolving security landscape, this approach will be key to ensuring a safer future.

– In this column, we’ll be discussing key issues for CISOs and their teams – from AI to wellbeing and from Zero Trust to communication. If you’d like to get in touch, email [email protected]

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