Want to Strengthen Cybersecurity? MIT Says to Start With AIOps

January 12 2021

A new MIT Technology Review report reveals how AI and machine learning can help companies protect themselves against growing cybersecurity threats.

Every week it seems like there’s another large-scale security breach making headlines, reminding us how vulnerable we’ve become in the digital age.  The internet — the great democratizer of information — is increasingly forcing organizations to confront its sometimes dark and unintended consequences. 

A 2020 PwC survey found that CEOs in North America regard cyber threats as the leading threat to their organization’s growth prospects. And the rise of online activity due to COVID-19 has just thrown gasoline on the fire. According to the FBI, the number of complaints about cyberattacks is up to 4,000 a day — a staggering 400% increase from what they were seeing pre-pandemic. 

While cyberattacks are increasingly sophisticated, so are the methods designed to protect your systems, networks, and data from attacks. And that’s good news for IT leaders looking to stay ahead of emerging threats, particularly in light of the rise in remote work. As a result, organizations are increasingly turning to AIOps tools that combine artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to build a crucial layer of monitoring and defense.

A new report from MIT Technology Review explores why AIOps — artificial intelligence for IT operations — is the next frontier in cybersecurity. Companies like Siemens USA and Carhartt are already leveraging AIOps technology to protect against potential data breaches, and others are rapidly following suit. In fact, the AIOps platform market is projected to grow by $18 billion between 2020 and 2027.

So, why (and how) should IT leaders implement AIOps to strengthen their approach to cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity in the New Normal

Cybersecurity affects every aspect of business and IT operations, and the sheer number of breaches occurring makes it impossible to ignore. A survey conducted in October 2019 found that 43% of companies reported multiple successful or attempted data breaches. And that was before COVID-19 had everyone working, shopping, and schooling from home.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents also worry that their organizations may fall victim to a targeted attack in the next 12 months. This fear is only worsened by the rise in cyberattacks we’ve seen over the last several months, caused in large part by the unprecedented surge in online activity. The rapid, dramatic shift of employees to home offices has also led to an exponential increase in the number of edge-computing devices — all of which require protection.

To protect the business and stay ahead of constantly evolving threats, organizations need to use every tool and technology at their disposal to prevent and mitigate cyberattacks.

Turning to AI-Powered Cyber Defense

Faced with these new IT security challenges, AIOps can help organizations detect, assess, and eliminate potential security vulnerabilities — before they are exploited by hackers.

So, what exactly is AIOps?

Well, it’s a broad category of tools and components that uses AI, machine learning, and analytics to automate common IT operational processes, identify and resolve problems, and avoid costly outages. With full visibility into the entire technology stack, AIOps platforms ingest and analyze large volumes of data from every corner of the IT environment. Machine-learning algorithms monitor across systems, learning as they go how systems perform. AIOps brings together data silos with the means to filter them, detect patterns, and cluster meaningful information for efficient actioning.

Implementing an AIOps strategy can help IT teams decrease MTTR, build a more proactive approach to performance monitoring, and drive better and faster decision-making. Using robust AIOps technology, organizations can proactively identify, isolate, and respond to security issues, while also connecting performance insights to business outcomes.

AIOps technology, for example, can determine whether a potential problem is ransomware, which infiltrates computer systems and shuts down access to critical data. Or it can help identify and prevent potential data leaks that can be costly, embarrassing, and professionally damaging.

Notes Rob Enderle, renowned technology analyst, “AIOps can perceive and anticipate potential and real security threats faster and better than human IT and security administrators. And when it comes to security, a fast response is paramount.”

AIOps in the Real World

When COVID-19 forced employees across the U.S. to work from home, Siemens USA was ready. Leveraging AIOps technology, the organization was able to immediately secure and monitor 95% of its 400,000 PCs, laptops, mobile devices, and other interfaces in use by employees working remotely. Gathering data from endpoints — hardware devices such as laptops and PCs — the platform analyzes the data to reveal potential threats. Using AIOps in conjunction with a specialized security system, Siemens USA can protect its remote workforce and repel potential data breaches.

The rise in cyber threats has implications across the entire enterprise, from employees to customers to the bottom line. In 2020, 64% of organizations report that cyberattacks and other cybersecurity problems are the top cause of network, server, and application downtime. This, of course, frustrates customers and sends them elsewhere.

After successfully implementing AIOps in 2017 for infrastructure monitoring, Carhartt expanded its use of AIOps to improve the customer experience. To ensure a seamless digital experience for its customers, apparel manufacturer Carhartt leverages AIOps technology for proactive troubleshooting.

AIOps enables Carhartt to spot performance and security issues in its e-commerce systems before they can affect the customer purchasing and sales experience. Using AIOps’ threat detection and security capabilities, the company can ensure its customer-facing applications perform flawlessly, increasing customer loyalty, retention, and engagement.

Is AIOps Missing From Your Cybersecurity Strategy?

In a time when cyberattacks are ramping up and cyber threats seem to be lurking around every corner, AIOps provides the speed and agility IT teams need to support today’s digital business.

From observing activity across an organization’s network to detecting, assessing, and eliminating security threats, AIOps is transforming the way organizations tackle cybersecurity. Using AIOps technology provides a potent layer of protection, allowing organizations to prevent data risks from becoming data breaches.

Download the Report

To explore MIT Technology Review’s full findings on this topic, download the free report. You’ll gain deeper insights into how you can leverage AIOps to identify and respond to security risks before they become security failures.

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