Managing risk

Between progress and safety: The dark side of AI


Artificial Intelligence (AI)  is all about using technology to increase the speed and accuracy of your business operations to save time and boost your productivity. That’s what makes it a promising asset to businesses, large and small, around the world. But could AI make your enterprise more vulnerable to potential security threats? We investigate.

AI in everyday life

AI has been a hot topic since the 1950s, and today, most of us encounter AI on a daily basis – sometimes without even realising it. For example, when we unlock our phones with facial recognition, interact on social media, listen to music on Spotify or use voice assistants. There are even AI-enhanced speed cameras on our roads.

As the technology becomes more advanced and prominent in our lives, AI has received more than its fair share of media attention. And with it have surfaced an increased number of security concerns. But are they justified?

AI and business security

AI has always been intended as a tool to support our day-to-day, using human-like intelligence, decision-making and reasoning.

That’s why AI systems are based on a set of deep learning algorithms that store personal data to create more streamlined and tailored experiences. This process has been one of the primary reasons for security concerns surrounding AI.

Of course, data security is not a new issue for businesses. In fact, it’s a major concern for every organisation that collects and stores customer data for purposes like marketing or customer service. However, what makes AI applications an especially appealing target for hackers is not only the wealth of information it collects, but the fact that they often operate online, or ‘in the cloud’.

That’s why businesses without sufficient cybersecurity measures are at more risk of being breached. Once they’ve found a weak spot, many hackers target sensitive business or customer data stored within the systems. If successful, a cybersecurity attack could not only result in a PR nightmare, but even prove fatal for your business relations.

Not even big brand names are safe. Only last year, the global content management platform WordPress reported that approximately 20,000 WordPress websites were infected with malware via a Russian proxy server.

Around the same time, Luxury hotel chain Marriott encountered a security breach that compromised reservation details of more than 500,000 guests. This included personal details, such as their names, credit card details, passport numbers, addresses and phone numbers.

Reputable AI developers are generally mindful of these risks and aim to always improve their technology to detect and protect systems against current and future breaches. In fact, it’s not unusual for developers to use AI to identify potential threats in real-time. This allows them to take action before any damage is done.

Ways to protect your business

When it comes to AI, the best way to safeguard your business may not be to stay clear of its systems but embrace them to protect your assets – for instance, by using biometric logins, like finger or palm prints instead of passwords. It’s also a good idea to consult AI and information technology (IT) specialists for expert advice on how to keep your systems up to scratch.

But there are more precautions you can take for your business:

  • Plan ahead: taking an in-depth look at your operations can help you identify any potential weak spots in your systems.
  • Learn from past mistakes: has your business faced any kind of security threats in the past? If so, it might be worthwhile analysing how things unfolded back then, including how the threat occurred and how it was handled. This can help you determine whether there’s something you can do better next time.
  • Have procedures in place: if your business does come under attack, it’s good to have a plan in place. From an internal perspective, this should include things like ways to eliminate the threat and how to protect assets that have not yet been compromised. From an external perspective, you should think about how to communicate the issue to your customers and outline the steps you’re planning to take to resolve the issue and maintain their trust.
  • Implement ongoing security processes: this includes updating firewalls and regularly monitoring system traffic and use as part of your business’s cyber security strategy. This can help you identify any atypical movements.
  • Education: train your staff about potential cybersecurity issues, risks and what to do if a breach has been detected.

As business technologies continue to evolve, it’s important that companies understand the ins and outs of AI in order to protect their assets, while also learning how to use it to their advantage.

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