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Harmonising AI, human expertise: Navigating the future of cyber security

By Ned Baltagi, Managing Director, Middle East, Turkey and Africa at SANS Institute.

Johannesburg, 26 Sep 2023
There's a lurking danger in over-relying on AI.
There's a lurking danger in over-relying on AI.

In the rapidly evolving landscape of digital security, the intertwining of artificial intelligence (AI) and cyber security has emerged as a transformative shift, promising a new paradigm in how we detect, understand and counter threats.

AI, with its unmatched prowess in swiftly processing vast datasets, has redefined the benchmarks for threat detection, predictive analytics and response strategies. Its capabilities span from recognising intricate patterns in a vast sea of data to predicting potential future threats. However, with this comes a caveat that the industry must heed.

While AI's potential in cyber security is vast, there's a lurking danger in over-relying on it. As industries rush to adopt AI-driven security solutions, some experts, including myself, caution that an over-dependence on AI could lead to a new era of vulnerabilities. It's a double-edged sword: while AI can detect and prevent threats with incredible efficiency, it also introduces the risk of 'machine bias', where threats that don't fit the 'learned patterns' might be overlooked. In a sense, we might be opening doors to a breed of cyber attacks specifically designed to exploit AI's blind spots.

Yet, as powerful as AI is, it's essential to underscore the irreplaceable nature of human intuition and expertise. The most potent defence mechanisms arise from a harmonious synergy between AI's computational might and the discerning judgment of trained professionals.

Courses like SEC595: Applied Data Science and AI/Machine Learning for Cybersecurity Professionals have pioneered an approach that dives deep into the interplay between AI and cyber security. Such educational endeavours don't merely deliver theoretical knowledge but emphasise a practical understanding of AI mechanisms, teaching professionals to harness AI responsibly and effectively. Through hands-on training, learners are empowered to think critically, innovate and remain vigilant against evolving threats, ensuring a balance between AI's strength and human discernment.

In any dynamic field, continuous evolution is the only constant. What's groundbreaking today might be passé tomorrow. Recognising this, leading educational initiatives place a premium on continuous learning. Through updated curriculums, thriving networks, interactive workshops and insightful webinars, professionals are kept at the forefront of emerging developments.

As the narrative of AI and cyber security unfolds, it's not just about the tools and technologies, it's about the people at the helm. The journey forward requires more than just knowledge, it demands vision, adaptability and the drive to shape the future of digital security. With the right blend of AI innovation and human expertise, the industry stands on the brink of a safer, more secure digital era.

For more information about SANS, please see here.