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How AI can help protect you, your company and even the country against cyber threats

As cyberthreats loom amid a nationwide demand for cyber talent, one scientist breaks down how AI intervenes in cybersecurity solutions for individuals and institutions alike.

The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.

(Photo by Flickr user David B. Gleason, used under a Creative Commons license)

This is a guest post by Gene Locklear, an AI research scientist at Sentient Digital Inc. The company works with both commercial and government clients out of offices in Lexington Park, Maryland; New Orleans, Louisiana; Doylestown, Pennsylvania; and Warrenton and Norfolk, Virginia.

In this age of widespread technology use, everyone must be aware of cybersecurity threats.

Just as the military reinforced its cybersecurity defenses, companies and individuals should do the same. Cyber threats have become much more frequent and powerful in recent years, and being aware of how to anticipate, recognize and combat them is crucial.

In the military

Cybersecurity in the military is a complex subject. Cyber threats to sensitive data could happen at any time, especially when it comes to government databases. Anything from malware to ransomware could be a potential threat. One way the military combats cyber threats is through the use of artificial intelligence (AI). AI has the ability to expand capabilities in protecting systems from potential and imminent threats. Artificial intelligence uses algorithms and machine learning principles to learn the patterns of cyber threats. As the AI learns, it will form and adapt strategies against these evolving threats. While many cybersecurity experts work to ensure the military is protected against cyberattacks, AI can often recognize very small threats that humans may not see — and stop them before they cause irreversible damage.

In the economy

Just as with the military, businesses must have a plan in place to protect against cyber attacks. They can employ several measures to prepare. Understanding the threats that particular industries faces is vital. Whether the risks involve phishing or bots, a company should be aware of the threats that their data and systems could potentially face.

Businesses can leverage AI to protect against cyber attacks the same way the military can. AI is able to use machine learning to better detect anomalies than traditional antiviral software. Having AI-powered cybersecurity software in place can provide a great layer of protection. It can respond quickly and prevent cyber attacks from happening at all. AI can identify and prioritize certain risks and guide incident response in tandem with your human workforce. It can also detect and remove viruses from a system, keeping a company’s data secure, as well as make data backup more efficient by automating the process; A self-driving, AI-powered backup system can save a company hours of human work and allow employees to focus on tasks that are better suited for human intelligence. If your company’s cybersecurity prevention measures fail, having your data backed up will assist you in recovering from an attack.

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In your home (and your phone)

Individual cybersecurity involves steps that aren’t very different from those company might take. Today, individuals are obviously more susceptible than ever to cyber attacks: Computers, phones and even at-home security cameras can be compromised. That’s why it’s very important to learn how to recognize attacks, as well as protect against them. People can benefit from investing in AI-driven software for cybersecurity purposes. 

One example of how AI can protect an individual is in identifying potential credit card fraud. AI-powered software can recognize patterns to detect unusual activity on an individual’s account. AI can also help users to create more secure passwords. Users can additionally automate their data to backup routinely, saving them if their device encounters a threat.

Suffice it to say, these very different levels of approach offer surprisingly comparable ways in which AI can be employed for protecting devices, data and the people who use them. 

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