Artificial Intelligence, Real Cybersecurity

Artificial intelligence conjures images of the future, but in 2021, is it all it’s cracked up to be? Before you invest, brush up on the benefits and challenges of this burgeoning technology.

Artificial intelligence (AI) systems spending will jump from $85.3 billion in 2021 to more than $204 billion in 2025, according to International Data Corporation. As cyber attacks become more sophisticated, organizations must decide if the benefits of using AI to guard against outside threats outweigh the challenges.

The benefits

Technology creates convenience in today’s modern world, and AI is no exception. Many organizations have implemented biometric scanning, made possible by AI, as a password alternative. This form of identity management is nearly impossible to imitate and adds an additional layer of security against data and physical breaches.

AI is also incredibly useful when it comes to processing large amounts of data, reducing the man-hours it takes to compile and prioritize complex information. The result of this speedier number crunching is improved incident response times when combating malware, other cyber attacks, and bots (a quickly growing cybersecurity problem).

The retail and banking industries will spend the most on AI over the next five years. The former will focus AI technology on the customer experience, including automated customer service and recommendation engines. The latter will use AI to reduce risks through automated threat intelligence and fraud analysis applications.

The challenges

AI is developed by humans but lacks their critical thinking skills. Because of this, AI will miss cyber threats it was not coded to detect. Although it can be useful in identifying threats, its functionality is limited by its programming, which means it requires continuous updates and human resources to improve.

In this way, AI systems can be cost prohibitive. Initial investment, maintenance costs, and AI experts are all important factors to consider before implementation.

AI is also still a relatively new technology. We’re not yet able to instill actual intelligence in machines, and without huge volumes of data and event examples to learn from, they can report false positives or other incorrect results. Receiving inaccurate data from such a costly investment will only lead to more frustration, costs, and potentially worse security incidents.


Like any technology, AI comes with its ups and downs. While it could develop into a useful tool for strengthening cyber defenses, it is by no means the end-all-be-all of effective cybersecurity. Inevitably, this technology will evolve and be utilized by malicious, as well as good, actors. Some experts worry that cyber criminals do enough damage without AI, and that the assistance of AI’s complex automated processes creates the potential for more sophisticated, frequent attacks in the future.

Organizations should independently determine if AI solutions would complement their current IT strategy, weighing the cost, benefits, and risks of relying on nascent technology. As a rule of thumb, conducting regular security assessments to isolate threats and areas for concern will provide a clearer picture of how AI could be implemented and if the benefits justify the risks.