How Is Machine Learning Helping Cyber Defense?

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By Richard Meadow

The cyber defense needs to be constantly adapted in order to keep up with the developing threats thanks to more sophisticated technology. Thankfully, that’s where machine learning steps in. Though many people may not be entirely familiar with machine learning and what it has to offer, it is already making an impact on their daily lives. Shaping the future to create a safer, more efficient world to come.

Although the idea of machine learning is not exactly new, it’s experienced its biggest level of growth in the past decade due to increased interest. So, what exactly is machine learning and how can it help cyber defense? We break it down below.

What Is Machine Learning?

Machine learning falls under the umbrella of artificial intelligence. It essentially refers to the technology whereby a computer has the ability to comprehend and organize data, using algorithms to learn and adapt. It analyses large volumes of data and then interprets it into performable tasks. It can then use this information to refine its knowledge and make predictions for the future. Sound familiar? It should. Businesses such as Google, Apple, and Amazon Alexa developer teams already use this technology to analyze user’s search activity and make suggestions for future purchases or articles.

Already, it’s being used across many industries. From helping take the pressure off teachers in the education industry, to greatly reducing data analyzing time in law. In fact, there are few industries that are not using machine learning in one way or another. The only limit, once the technology is developed, is how far each industry is willing to take it. Currently, artificial intelligence is not being used to its full capabilities.

How Is It Currently Helping Cyber Defense?

It makes sense that machine learning should be used to help in some way for preventing cyber-attacks and malicious behavior given its advanced capabilities. It can learn what it deems to be “normal” online behavior and then distinguish suspicious behavior using a custom algorithm. This could be a game-changer for hackers, who will find it harder than ever to get into a system once it’s protected by machine learning security.

Here are some of the most important problems facing websites and ways in which machine learning is impacting cyber defense to prevent them:

Watering Hole

This term refers to when hackers try to attack a site that has a high number of traffic. The hackers then try to gain users’ data, drawing it from whoever has visited. Machine learning can prevent this by creating algorithms for the site. It ensures the security standard by analyzing the path of visitors coming to the website. Machine learning works by predicting outcomes and learning from them, whether they were correct or not. By applying this logic, it can detect whether users are directed to malicious websites by following previous visitor paths. It can then alert the user that the site may be harmful, giving them the option to go back.

Ransomware

Ransomware defines the combination of ransom and software. This is when a hacker gets hold of private information or data and demands a sum in exchange for the encryption key to the stolen files. AI can use deep learning algorithms to detect unknown ransomware and analyze the behaviors of ransomware attacks. This can then be used to check the files so security actions can be taken before it infiltrates the whole file system and locks access to the computer.

Webshell

Webshell is a piece of code inputted onto a website by a hacker which allows them to make changes on the webroot directory of the server. Hackers can even access customers personal credit card information if it’s an e-commerce site. They can also modify the transactions, so the payments go through a different path, exploiting the system so they receive the payment. Machine learning can help by indemnifying normal behavior from potentially harmful behavior. Files capable of harmful activity can be isolated before they have the chance to exploit the system.

The Future of AI

The future of AI and machine learning is looking bright, particularly when it comes to cyber defense. Machine learning has come a long way in a short space of time, improving the work environment for many industries as well as impacting customer experiences. The technology is yet to reach its peak, but businesses will do well to fully embrace it when it does.

Even in its infancy, it’s already changing industries and how they operate, it’s only a matter of time before it infiltrates other industries in the future. If machine learning keeps improving the way it is now, there is every reason to believe it will save many hacking instances from taking place. The possibilities are endless if machine learning is welcomed with open arms.

About the Author

Richard Meadow is a Freelance writer interested in technology and enjoys researching new subjects to write about. Currently, with the help of Apadmi, Richard research has lead to cyber defense and looking into the latest updates and technology is his current passion. Richard can be reached online at richardtmeadow@gmail.com and his Twitter handle is @meadow_richard.