Avinode / Schedaero / The Node

How is AI driving cybersecurity forward?

26 Nov 2019

Cybersecurity matters in bizav. No, let’s try again. Cybersecurity matters enormously in bizav. Automated responses to cyberattacks are essential, and can be effective, but how can we go further? How can we use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to strengthen defenses in our industry?

Why does cybersecurity matter so much?

To give just one example, large sums of money are being transferred all the time in private aviation. Credit card and bank details must flow securely. A data breach could not only be financially harmful for you and your client in the short term but could also cause your business irreparable, long-term reputational damage.

Privacy and security are two of the main reasons people love flying privately. You simply cannot let your clients down by taking a casual approach to the storage and protection of their contact details and personal data.

With each new day, a new threat.

The nature of cyberattacks is constantly changing. And as the great sci-fi novelist H.G. Wells wrote of life: “Adapt or perish.”

Humans simply cannot cope with the volume, diversity and rapid evolution of the threats in cyberspace. Automation helps but is largely restricted to a programmed response to a known threat (such as a pre-identified computer virus or other form of malware) – if ‘A’ happens, then ‘B’ should be the response. But what if threat ‘A’ is new and unknown?

What we need, therefore, is tech that can identify and block threats that have never even been seen before. What we need is tech with the AI to survey the digital landscape and say…

“Something’s not quite right here…”

Effectively starting with no information at all, cybersecurity AI can study your company’s everyday digital activity. Armed with this self-taught knowledge, and a highly evolved understanding of what is therefore ‘normal’, AI can detect and respond to subtle deviations from ‘normality’. The alarm can be raised to suspicious new activity, even with no prior details of this particular threat.

You’re being watched…but that’s good.

The potential applications of AI in cybersecurity – in bizav or any industry – are incredible. Imagine, for example, behavioral analytics being applied to your personal activities (or the activities of members of your team). A machine could analyze and learn the patterns of your behavior, such as how you normally use devices and online platforms. Again, therefore, the AI is teaching itself, not being programmed with each new piece of information. Do you type quickly? Yes. Do you turn off your computer by 20:00? Yes. Do you ever download files from Archive ABC? No. So when someone typing very slowly is trying to use your computer to download lots of documents from Archive ABC at 23:30, the AI knows something may be very wrong.

Don’t panic. Help is out there.

Pioneering players in the world of cybersecurity AI include Darktrace, with HQs in Cambridge (UK) and San Francisco (California), and Texas-based Securonix.

Please don’t try to build your own cybersecurity defenses. You’ll be opening the door to a very expensive mistake. Find expert partners. And talking of partners…

You’re not alone. Look past the walls of your office.

Your cybersecurity perimeter needs to extend far beyond your company car park. Make sure your suppliers take cybersecurity as seriously as you do. Your data partners must understand the latest weapons in the fight against cybercrime, including AI, but…

Nothing’s perfect.

Although AI technology can work and learn by itself in remarkable ways, AI cannot just be left to battle cyberattacks alone. Human involvement is vital. Cybersecurity firms, for example, might need to regularly ‘train’ AI tech to learn intelligently (and so respond to threats effectively) by feeding the system with new datasets of malicious and non-malicious codes.

And, unsupervised, AI might mistake harmless code for a threat, blocking or isolating a file, and causing business disruption. Again, human oversight is essential.

AI may not be the perfect weapon in the fight against cybercrime but AI will undoubtedly be increasingly important as the battle rages on. Every organization in business aviation should be taking cybersecurity very seriously indeed.

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