Artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum are set to be the next major technology disruptors and will have a profound impact on the cybersecurity sector, according to speakers in a session at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2021.
Advancements in these areas are likely to lead to new opportunities for cyber-criminals to leverage attacks, but conversely, can also enable the development of stronger cybersecurity defenses.
Vikram Sharma, founder and CEO at QuintessenceLabs, explained that these technologies form part of the predicted “fourth industrial revolution,“ which will radically enhance our technological capabilities. “The fourth industrial revolution is really a confluence of a number of technologies, so alongside AI, 5G, robotics, 3D printing and IoT, quantum is one of these very important technologies of our time.”
He said it is critical organizations now look at how they can leverage quantum for cybersecurity purposes. This is because of its potential to provide a “robust” protection of data as well as to counter the threats this tech could pose in the hands of attackers. Sharma added: “The general consensus is we may see an adversary who has a quantum computer at the right scale to impact cybersecurity within the next five to 10 years.”
Similarly, it is critical that proactive steps are taken to tackle the use of AI by threat actors to launch attacks. Pete Tortorici, director, Joint Information Warfare at the Department of Defense (DOD) Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, outlined a number of considerations in this regard: “How are we going to understand what network incident detection is going to look like in the world of AI? How do we leverage AI to secure network capabilities? How do we build robust analytics to let us know when things have happened inside of a network?”
For organizations to successfully implement AI solutions, underlying issues first need to be resolved. Tortorici said: “A lot of organizations haven’t solved the data problem that underlies being able to get after an AI solution.” He added this can be as simple as collecting and keeping the data needed to feed their algorithm.
Another issue is meeting the demand for AI specialists and data engineers from a security standpoint. Tortorici commented: “I wonder if we have the required incentives, both educational and professional, to grow this skillset over the next several decades.” He added that at the Department of Defense there is now a strong emphasis on “cultivating and retaining talent” in this area.
In regard to quantum, Sharma said that his company has observed organizations becoming increasingly aware of the transformative potential of quantum, and “a number of them have started the process of building internal subject matter expertise within their engineering and development groups around quantum.”
However, much more focus needs to be placed on its potential impact on cybersecurity. Part of this is ensuring organizations are better educated on how to adapt their security posture. Sharma added: “While awareness of quantum is developing and generally people have some conception that there is a risk to cybersecurity, there isn’t a proper understanding of what this means in terms of implications for the cyber-technologies that are deployed today.”
It is therefore critical that organizations prepare for the expected growth in AI and quantum, both to improve their productivity and enhance their cybersecurity. Two key factors in ensuring this is the case that were emphasized by Sharma and Tortorici were general awareness and developing the right skillsets.