One of the key uses of AI that’s been discussed over the past few years has been its potential for cybersecurity. The number of high-profile cyber attacks has increased at a terrifying rate, with the Equifax hack of 2017 now possibly the largest single data loss in history, and AI has frequently been put forward as the golden bullet that could stop this kind of hacking in future.
The logic of this is clear,
However, according to Heather Adkins, director of information security and privacy and a founding member of Google's security team, the reality is that
Google holds perhaps the most data of any company in the world, processing billions of searches every day, receiving
It shows that Adkins has little faith in AI to replace humans in the near future, something which she actively said at the event. Discussing the possibility of AI replacing humans in cybersecurity, she pointed out that one of the major drawbacks is that AI is fantastic for spotting anomalous behavior, but it throws up so many false positives that knowing which is false and which is real can still only be decided by a human. For instance, if somebody has forgotten their password and tries 20 different variants, is that somebody who simply can’t remember their password or a hacker trying to guess a password? This is something that an AI system would find almost impossible to work out at the moment.
Adkins points out that the vast majority of attacks have changed very little from the 1970’s, but
At present, it seems like AI has a big role to play in cybersecurity moving forward, but the reality of the technology at the moment is that it cannot work independently from humans, which holds it back. However, as humans point out false positives and potential issues with the system it learns and adapts to make sure that there are fewer mistakes in the future, so it is constantly improving. However, at the same time as this improvement is taking place, AI is also being adapted by hackers to improve their systems and make it more likely to break through. With AI’s current capabilities it can only ever process elements that have already been considered and put through it previously, which puts it at a disadvantage when it comes to detection of new threats. It is for this reason that for the time being, cybersecurity professionals should feel that their jobs are still safe.