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Is AI’s Ability to Elevate Security Breaches Keeping CISOs Up at Night?

“If you know your enemy and yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Sun Tzu

The above statement is as real in today’s cybersecurity environment as it was in the times of civil unrest for the dominance of land and ultimately empires. In which understanding and increasing the reconnaissance of your adversary leading to mission victory, so is the thought process with today’s data security and privacy objectives in keeping business operation efficacy and continuance, intact. 

In a survey that was conducted in the first quarter of 2024, more than 400 Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) in both the US and UK revealed that 72 percent are concerned about security breaches related to generative Artificial Intelligence (AI). Cybercriminals have been using AI tools to not only gain the ability to circumvent basic security controls, but they have also elevated their thought processes and are now using AI for research. The information collected by these AI tools allows the hacker to understand the industry, the landscape of the organization, and possible entry points that can inflict harm to the ecosystem. In short, a hacker is studying ways that Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) can be heightened by ways of being specific to the target. It has been stated, AI is a double-edged sword. As cyber professionals are utilizing AI to be proactive and predictive in cyberattacks, so are criminals who are using AI to bypass such controls and learn about industry trends and security risks that could be taken advantage of. 

Cybercriminals specialize in verticals i.e., healthcare, finance, casinos, retail, just to name a few. They also focus on different ways that attacks can be carried out. For example, Scattered Spider became infamous when they were successful in vishing a casino and taking advantage of vulnerabilities that existed with both vendor and entity ecosystems. Their specialty with social engineering and MFA manipulation was a direct attack on a susceptible target. All information that was collected for this multi-faceted attack was research conducted with various sources, and the help of AI. As cybersecurity has become a business, more and more services are available for hackers to utilize the collective minds of specialized cybercriminals. 

So, what can we do? The ability to utilize AI internally with an advanced data visibility platform is a solution that is part of a bigger program. Enter Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA). To truly understand your architecture, thus the ability to properly protect your critical assets and data; you must start a discovery process and think like a cybercriminal. How far does your attack surface extend? Cloud based assets, remote users, third-party accessibility, partners, call center activity, and other entities all consist of certain data flows and entry points into your environment. Have you taken stock of your protect surface? What is currently in place to decide who gets access and to what assets? Are there sufficient enforcement points throughout your infrastructure that can accept or deny access based on pre-determined policies? All these questions can be answered when you start on your journey to a Zero Trust Architecture strategic journey. Remember, ZTA is not a solution. No one single device can provide the predictive, proactive measures that are required to keep data protected. 

Managing cyber risk is not a one-time solution. It's an ongoing journey. 

C1 can help you usher in the proper safeguards that are part of the ZTA journey by utilizing the strength of our partners and our security expertise in designing, implementing, and monitoring controls that prevent, detect and respond—all while mitigating the risks that AI could introduce to your ecosystem. Knowing your environment and the TTPs that could affect your business, coupled with a ZTA deployment; is what C1 can help your business. 

Understanding and being predictive in providing real-time business decisions is key to business competitiveness. With AI’s ability to provide advanced analytics, the advantages have never been greater, and utilizing this same technology to detect changes to your network, data, and applications will also elevate your security and privacy measures. 

Remember, knowledge is power and the more you know about the risks and threats that exist in your industry, the better a program you can create to minimize downtime and measure up to your security risk acceptance. Sun Tzu stated that knowing both your enemy and yourself will result in success. Let C1 assist you in knowing that journey. 

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About the author:
Vito Nozza's career spans 20+ years in Enterprise Architecture, with 15 years specific to Cyber Security. He has held roles as a CTO, Director, Principal Architect and Global Security Advisor, which have all led to establishing guidance and consultative measures to SME and Enterprise-grade entities. Vito has been paramount in establishing cloud security, guided frameworks and disaster/incident response plans, with overall GRC and ERM goals.