AI-Powered Security Still a Work in Progress

December 21, 2018

A new report, “The State of AI in Cybersecurity — The Benefits, Limitations and Evolving Questions.” Conducted by Osterman Research explored usage trends and sentiments toward artificial intelligence (AI) among more than 400 U.S. security analysts in organizations with 1000 or more employees. Nearly three quarters of respondents have already implemented at least one product that uses AI, but findings uncovered mixed results and a learning curve that needs to be addressed in order to use AI at higher levels of sophistication and effectiveness.

“A lot of hype and confusion exists around AI and its role in the cybersecurity industry,” said Gene Stevens, CTO, ProtectWise. “In its current state, AI is a tool for driving efficiencies and addressing staffing needs, but it is not going to replace human intelligence any time soon. AI is well positioned today to create machine-accelerated humans: an army of hunters and responders who use a wide array of expert systems to help unearth and prioritize critical threats. In the future, AI will only become more valuable as the industry develops products that improve ease of use and capitalize on AI’s efficiency differentiators.”

Top findings from the report include:

AI is already widely adopted – AI has already established a strong foothold, with 73 percent of respondents reporting they have implemented security products that incorporate at least some aspect of AI. Most organizations find AI’s ability to improve the efficiency of security staff members and make investigation of alerts faster as top priorities.

Executives, not the people who manage security, are the biggest advocates for AI – Fifty-five percent of respondents suggested that the strongest advocates for AI-based security products in their organization are IT executives, while 38 percent identified non-IT executives as the biggest internal champion.

Inconsistent with initial positive perception, AI-powered security products are weighed down by mixed results post deployment — According to respondents: 46 percent agree that rules creation and implementation are burdensome; and 25 percent said that they do NOT plan to implement additional AI-enabled security solutions in the future.

​There is still work to do — More than half of all respondents believe that: AI doesn’t stop zero-days and advanced threats (61 percent); it delivers inaccurate results (54 percent); it’s difficult to use (42 percent); and AI-based products are more expensive than traditional ones (71 percent).

​“All of these findings imply that AI is still in its early stages and we have yet to see its full potential,” said Michael Osterman, principal analyst of Osterman Research. “But AI-based products offer significant promise for improving the speed of processing alerts and that it might at least be a ‘silver-plated’ bullet in addressing the cybersecurity skills shortage.”

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