Tales from the compliance crypt: AI is the latest specter to haunt the world of cybersecurity

As the leaves turn crimson and the chill in the air deepens, it’s not just the season for ghouls and goblins. The world of technology, particularly cybersecurity, is experiencing its own transformation with the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Will AI be a friend or foe to information security (infosec)? 

AI: The ghost in the machine 

Picture this: a haunted mansion filled with hidden doors, dead ends, and countless enigmas. Now imagine that mansion as your digital world—your sensitive data, personal information, and business secrets locked behind virtual doors. This is the battleground for cybersecurity experts, and they have a new, supernatural ally: Artificial Intelligence.

If AI were to don a ghostly disguise, it might take the form of Casper, the most amicable of apparitions. Drifting through the eerie darkness, it listens and observes, absorbing knowledge from every move we make across the digital realm—remaining on high alert for the faintest hints of intrusion, weakness, or wickedness. With its supernatural abilities, it has the ability to foretell and thwart cyber terrors before they materialize.

But like any powerful tool, AI may be used for both positive and nefarious purposes.

The spooky side of AI 

Here’s where things get spooky. While AI can be a formidable ally in the realm of cybersecurity, there may be a darker side to its power. As it becomes more intelligent, it also becomes more unpredictable. And like a genie in a bottle, AI can be exploited, potentially leading to dire consequences.

It’s crucial to remember that AI doesn’t understand ethics or morals. It operates purely on algorithms, making it vulnerable to manipulation by those with malicious intent. 

Is AI a force of good or evil?: Expert perspectives 

When it comes to AI, experts are torn in terms of their outlook on how will impact society. Thousands of CEOs signed a petition for AI labs to pause training for at least six months while we try to consider the potential impacts on machines that can grow to be smarter than humans. Creepy? You bet. 

Further, According to a poll out of Monmouth University, 46% believed AI would do equal amounts of harm and good, while 41% believed the technology would do more harm. Only 9% of respondents believe computer scientists can develop AI that would benefit society. If you’re thinking this is sounding like a post apocalyptic thriller film, you’re not alone.

But, let’s hear straight from the experts! Some are more hopeful than others. Fei-Fei Li, Co-Director of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence and IT Professor at the Graduate School of Business, has said that “artificial intelligence is not a substitute for human intelligence; it is a tool to amplify human creativity and ingenuity.” 

Further to that, leaders like Ginni Rometty, former chairperson and CEO of IBM, believe AI will not only amplify human excellence but, in turn, make us better. “Some people call this artificial intelligence,” she explains, “but the reality is this technology will enhance us. So instead of artificial intelligence, I think we’ll augment our intelligence.”

Others, aren’t quite as optimistic and take a more ominous stance. “The upheavals [of artificial intelligence] can escalate quickly and become scarier and even cataclysmic.” says Nick Bilton, tech columnist in New York Times. “Imagine how a medical robot, originally programmed to rid cancer, could conclude that the best way to obliterate cancer is to exterminate humans who are genetically prone to the disease.” 

And then there is another camp who prefers more of a “proceed with caution” approach: 

Thoropass’s very own Director of Compliance, Jay Trinckes explains that “AI could be used to see patterns in data and analyze a large amount of data faster (and more efficiently) than ever before.” He continues that “on the flip side, human bias may be introduced within the learning models causing the output to be biased. Bad data in will cause bad data out.  Whoever controls the models (and the data used to teach the AI) will control the AI, but the continued iterations of the data may eventually ‘corrupt’ or decrease the quality of the outputs.”

And lastly, the late great Stephen Hawking, who was always decades into the future when it came to his visionary thinking has been recorded as saying “success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks.”

AI’s supernatural abilities

Breaking down the other-worldly abilities of AI, one can start to understand how its superpowers can supersede what we mere earthlings are able to achieve in a given amount of time:

  • Prophetic insights (Predictive analytics): AI can forecast cyberattacks by identifying patterns and anomalies, making it an essential tool for staying one step ahead of hackers.
  • Spectral surveillance (Behavioral analysis): Like a specter watching from the shadows, AI observes user behavior and can detect unusual actions that may indicate a breach.
  • Robotic reactivity (Automated response): When a cyber threat materializes, AI can respond instantly, halting attacks with speed and precision that seem almost supernatural.
  • Metamorphic wisdom (Adaptive learning): AI is continually learning, evolving, and adapting, much like the legendary shape-shifting creatures of folklore.

The future of AI in cybersecurity 

As Halloween approaches, and we see ghosts and jack-o-lanterns decorating the streets, it’s important to also consider the invisible forces around us. AI is a tool that can ward off the darkest of digital threats, but it must be wielded with caution. Just like all powerful forces, it can be used for good as well as evil. The AI-cybersecurity alliance is still evolving, and whether AI becomes our protector or poses a threat of its own remains a mystery yet to be unraveled.

Stay vigilant, dear readers, and may your digital world remain free from the horrors that lurk in the shadows. And remember, as we embrace the AI revolution in cybersecurity, we must tread lightly, for the line between guardian and ghostly apparition is thinner than we may think.

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