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Capstone Works, Inc. has been serving the Cedar Park area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

AI is the New Secret Weapon for Cybersecurity

AI is the New Secret Weapon for Cybersecurity

AI has been the buzzword of the year when it comes to the technology world, and for good reason. While what we know of as “AI” isn’t necessarily new, and it isn’t even technically artificial intelligence, it’s definitely becoming a groundbreaking new industry that is changing the way a lot of businesses and individuals do things. That being said, like all technologies, it can and will be used for nefarious purposes.

Catch Me Up, What is AI?

If you are feeling lost when it comes to artificial intelligence, you're not alone. As someone who grew up with films like Terminator 2, I didn’t necessarily believe that the future of artificial intelligence would lead to robots that looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I also didn’t imagine people would be using it to make Arnold Schwarzenegger sing show tunes and songs from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

I always imagined the practical application of AI being something that assists people with their day-to-day lives, but at the time of authoring this blog there has been a Hollywood writers’ strike for over three months, and Hollywood executives have certainly floated the idea of using AI to write future television shows and films as a means to replace human writers.

How Does AI Work?
Without getting too deep into the underlying technology, what we call AI today is basically a language model that’s trained on a massive set of data. 

For instance, if we took the underlying technology of an artificial intelligence application like ChatGPT, but only allowed it to look at and index all 12,000 episodes of the long-running daytime soap opera, The Young and the Restless, it would be pretty good at answering questions about the characters and events that took place in the series, and it could even generate somewhat original ideas based on all of the information it has to work with. You could ask it to generate a script for a new episode and give it some guidelines and it would likely spit out something that, more or less, matches the tone and structure of the classic soap opera.

While AI can create new ideas, it’s really just doing so from the information it is fed, and using the language model to switch things up a little. It’s amazing to watch, and the end results are certainly interesting, but at the end of the day, it’s not actually using a real creative process, it’s just intelligently shuffling the data it already has to give you what you’ve asked for.

Image-based generative AI works the same way. It uses photos and artwork that other people have created to generate an image that you ask for. It doesn’t give the original authors credit, and in most cases it’s nearly impossible to determine how much of an original work was used, how many works were used, and whether or not they were copyrighted, etc.

Practical Use Cases for AI
There are thousands of practical use cases for this technology, but one of the more interesting examples I like to bring up is in an industry you’d almost never expect to find artificial intelligence: agriculture.

Preventing and killing invasive weeds is something that many farms need to deal with. Traditionally, this is often done by hand, or done by using harmful chemicals. Enter The LaserWeeder, a 20-foot-wide machine that specifically targets weeds and uses an array of lasers to safely incinerate them. The machine uses a series of cameras and artificial intelligence to identify weeds, so it doesn’t target the actual crop. The AI looks at each plant, compares them to a massive database of weeds, and then determines what gets zapped. It does this very quickly, and can eliminate up to 100,000 weeds in an hour.

In the long run, a device like this is more cost effective and safer to use, and handles work that is extremely difficult for dozens of humans to do. In an industry where margins are paper-thin, labor is hard to come by, and plenty of other uncontrollable elements can cause havoc in crop yield, this sort of automation can be seen as a game changer.

The Bad Guys Have AI, Too

Cybercriminals have all the same access to AI tools that everyone else does, but they also have even more tricks up their sleeves. For instance, while ChatGPT is designed with ethical guardrails and limitations that are supposed to prevent a person from developing malware or harmful code that exploits software vulnerabilities, cybercriminals have developed WormGPT, which is essentially ChatGPT’s evil twin. It doesn’t have the same limitations and could potentially be used to create malicious phishing emails and other threats.

Artificial intelligence can help cybercriminals automate and optimize everything they do, from composing more convincing phishing emails to finding flaws in your software to exploit. 

If a cybercriminal manages to gain access to your company data, they can use AI models to analyze and learn communication patterns to generate incredibly convincing messages from people within your organization to try to deceive employees or customers.

AI can help hackers evade traditional cybersecurity measures and enhance ransomware distribution. 

In other words, AI is going to be used against organizations because it’s an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to taking large amounts of data and making “good” use of it.

AI is Your Organization’s New Security Tool

Fortunately, AI can be used to defend your organization as well.

Modern enterprise cybersecurity software can use artificial intelligence to constantly monitor and identify suspicious activity. This goes way beyond what a traditional antivirus or security suite can do, as it provides up-to-the-second threat detection, activity monitoring, and much more proactive protection than other types of security tools.

On top of that, these tools are starting to become requirements for certain compliance regulations, especially in industries that deal with sensitive information. We’re also seeing business insurance providers becoming more interested in the steps you take to protect yourself from cyberthreats, so managed AI-powered cybersecurity tools are only going to become more and more of a staple, and eventually, a hard requirement for doing business.

Cybersecurity isn’t a luxury for larger companies these days, it’s something that any organization needs to take seriously. We can help your business utilize modern technology to keep your operations running smoothly. To learn more, give us a call at (512) 343-8891.

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