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As these times stress the bottom lines of businesses and
SMBs alike, many are looking to cut costs wherever possible. The problem for
business owners and MSPs is that cybercriminals are not reducing their budgets
apace. On the contrary, the rise in COVID-related scams has
been noticeable
.

It’s simply no time to cut corners in terms of
cybersecurity. But there is hope. Cybersecurity, traditionally suffering from a
lack of qualified and experienced professionals, can be a source of savings for
businesses. How? Through the automation and efficiency that artificial intelligence
(AI) and machine learning can offer.

AI & ML in Today’s Cybersecurity Landscape

By way of background, Webroot has been collecting IT
decision makers’ opinions on the utility of AI and machine learning for years
now. Results have been…interesting. We’ve seen a steady rise in adoption not
necessarily accompanied by an increase in understanding.

For instance, during a 2017 survey of IT decision makers in
the United States and Japan, we discovered that approximately 74 percent of
businesses were already using some form of AI or ML to protect their
organizations from cyber threats. In 2018, 74 percent planned even further
investments.

And by 2019, of 800 IT professional cybersecurity
decisionmakers across the globe, a whopping 96 percent reported using AI/ML
tools in their cybersecurity programs. But, astonishingly, nearly seven out of
ten (68%) of them agreed that, although their tools claim to use AI/ML, they
aren’t sure what that means.

Read the full report: “Do AI and Machine Learning Make a Difference in Cybersecurity?”

So, are these tools really essential to securing the cyber
resilience of small businesses? Or are they unnecessary luxuries in an age of
tightening budgets?

AI and ML in the Age of Covid-19

Do AI and ML have something unique to offer businesses—SMBs
and MSPs alike—in this age of global pandemic and remote workforces?

We asked the topically relevant question to it to one of the
most qualified individuals on the planet to answer it: literal rocket
scientist, BrightCloud founder, and architect behind the AI/ML engine known as
the Webroot Platform, Hal Lonas.

Can AI and machine learning tools help people do their
jobs more effectively now that they’re so often remote?

Put directly, the Carbonite and Webroot CTO and senior VP’s
response was bullish.

“AI and machine learning tools can absolutely help
people do their jobs more effectively now more than ever,” said Lonas.
“Security professionals are always in short supply, and now possibly
unavailable or distracted with other pressing concerns. Businesses are facing
unprecedented demands on their networks and people, so any automation is
welcome and beneficial.”

In machine
learning, a subset of AI
, algorithms self-learn and improve their findings
and results without being explicitly programmed to do so. This means a business
deploying AI/ML is improving its threat-fighting capabilities without
allocating additional resources to the task– something that should excite
cash-strapped businesses navigating tough economic realities.

Our AI/ML report backs up Lonas’s assertion that these
technologies make a welcome addition to most business security stacks. In fact,
94 percent of respondents in our survey reported believing that AI/ML tools
make them feel more comfortable in their role.

“People who use good AI/ML tools should feel more
comfortable in their role and job,” he asserts. “Automation takes
care of the easy problems, giving them time to think strategically and look out
for problems that only humans can solve. In fact, well-implemented tools allow
security workers to train them to become smarter—in effect providing the ‘learning’
part of machine learning. Each new thing the machine learns makes more
capable.”

AI/ML adopters also reported:

  • An increase in automated tasks (39%)
  • An increase in effectiveness at their job/role
    (38%)
  • A decrease in human error (37%).
  • Strongly agreeing that the use of AI/ML makes
    them feel more confident in performing their roles as cybersecurity
    professionals. (50%)

So despite some confusion about the role these technologies
play in cybersecurity (which
we think vendors could help demystify for their clients
), their effects are
clearly felt. And because cybercriminals
are willing to adopt AI/ML for advanced attacks
, they may force the hands
of SMBs and MSPs if they want to keep up in the cybersecurity arms race.

Given today’s limited budgets, dispersed workforces, and increasingly
sophisticated attacks, the time may never be better to empower professionals to
do more with less by automating defenses and freeing them to think about
big-picture cybersecurity.

The post We Need the Security Benefits of AI and Machine Learning Now More Than Ever appeared first on Webroot Blog.