theDocumentId => 1337467 Cybersecurity Will Always Need the Human Element

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By Anthony Bettini, CTO, Whitehat Security
By Anthony Bettini, CTO, Whitehat Security
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Cybersecurity Will Always Need the Human Element

In order for artificial intelligence to learn and develop within the security sphere, organizations need to incorporate both AI- and human-centric offerings.

The WhiteHat Security team recently returned from the RSA Conference in San Francisco. This year’s theme was "The Human Element," emphasizing the vital role of people in cybersecurity. In light of the theme, we took a glimpse into the perspectives of industry professionals amid a growing dependence on AI technologies.

In our new survey, "AI and Human Element Security Sentiment Study," we asked 102 security professionals at the RSA Conference what they believe the human element of cybersecurity ought to be in today’s growing threat landscape. We found nearly 60% of security professionals are still more confident in cyberthreat findings verified by humans over AI.

Through visiting with fellow conference-goers and attending sessions led by industry experts, our team noticed this like-minded sentiment: security organizations need to incorporate both AI- and human-centric offerings, especially in the application security space.

AI Is Working for Businesses
We can say without hesitation that AI is helping businesses across all industries (healthcare, financial services, automotive, critical infrastructure, etc.). The same is certainly valid in cybersecurity. AI and machine learning provide countless advantages to cybersecurity professionals, specifically in the face of the technology talent gap; a full 45% of respondents say their companies are lacking a sufficiently staffed cybersecurity team.

Furthermore, greater than 70% of respondents agree that AI-based tools made their cybersecurity teams more efficient by eliminating mundane tasks.

We also found it interesting that nearly 40% of respondents say their stress levels have decreased since incorporating AI tools into their security stack Of that 40%, 65% say they can now focus more closely on cyberattack mitigation and preventive measures than before incorporating AI tools. These findings are incredibly important when we consider that the cause of many vulnerabilities is often traced back to the development process. Less time pulled aside for monitoring and detection means more time spent on pre-emptive DevSecOps.

Machines Can’t Stand Alone
There are simply things humans can do that machines cannot. In order for AI to learn and develop, humans must stay involved. The responses to our survey and the viewpoints shared at the RSA Conference paint a clear picture of the incessant need for the human touch. These findings demonstrate this point well:

  • 30% of respondents cite intuition as the most important human element
  • 21% emphasize the importance of creativity
  • Nearly 20% agree that previous experience and frame of reference is the most critical human advantage

Creating the Right Solution
AI and ML have infiltrated almost every industry and helped simplify businesses in many ways, but machines are not sovereign. People will always play a role in cybersecurity, no matter how autonomous AI is able to make security processes. With AI, our role as humans shifts – rather than disappears – into an elevated and mastery role and takes over tedious and routine tasks. With this shift, developers must incorporate both AI capabilities and human-centric offerings into applications to make sure customers are getting verified results and continuous risk evaluation.

About the Author: Anthony Bettini, CTO, Whitehat Security
Anthony Bettini is the chief technology officer for WhiteHat Security, where he leads product management and development, engineering and threat research. Previously, Anthony was the founder and CEO of Appthority, a leading mobile security startup and FlawCheck, a leading container security startup.

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User Rank: Author
4/25/2020 | 1:07:23 AM
Interesting Article
The theoretical premise of this article does hold up, since in the beginning, AI will need to learn from humans in order to emulate them better. It is probably also true that current security work is based more on intuition (fine tuned by experience), but as processing power increases and algorithms mature, it is also likely that AI will eventually gain the logic behind intuition as well. I like the attempt to distill confidence on this topic based on RSA conference attendees, but that leads to inexact science and conclusions :).
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