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How AI can make businesses more resilient to data breaches

Jayajit Dash

When was the last time you read about a massive data breach in India? Some of you may feel reminiscent of the Air India data leak incident. It happened in February 2021. Hackers broke into Air India’s database to steal the personal information of 4.5 million Air India customers. The hackers obtained sensitive information to access passengers’ GST invoices and revealed it in the public domain. 2021 also saw the data breach of 190,000 Common Admission Test (CAT) applicants. Hackers obtained the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of the candidates and test results and later put them on sale on a cyber-crime forum.

But the talking point in this piece isn’t about the recurring cases of data theft. It’s on the escalating cost of data breaches in India. In 2023, the average cost of data breaches in India rose to Rs 17.9 crore, scaling an all-time high, per a recent report by IBM Security. Social Engineering or hoodwinking people to share their sensitive personal information is the most expensive cause of data breaches at Rs 19.1 crore.

Businesses are split on how they navigate the rising frequency and costs of data breaches. 95 per cent of the global organizations that IBM studied in its report experienced more than one data breach. Companies can either pass on the incident costs to the customers or ramp up investments in AI and automation to enhance their resilience to cyber-attacks.

AI and automation can play a stellar role in containing the costs of data breaches and saving time on cumbersome investigations. A study conducted in India found that companies using AI and automation experienced a 153-day reduction in the lifecycle of a data breach compared to non-AI and automation-deployed organizations (225 days versus 378 days). Despite the avowed benefits, a majority of organizations haven’t deployed these technologies yet to beef up their data security.

Intruder detection systems and firewalls are no longer sufficient to prevent data breaches. As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, they are finding new ways to exploit computer vulnerabilities.

Businesses must implement robust cybersecurity measures that actively counteract potential threats to stay ahead of the curve. The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation is one highly effective strategy for containing data breaches.

Data breaches can be detected and mitigated more effectively with the help of AI-powered cybersecurity solutions. Traditional cybersecurity methods rely on signature-based detection and manual intervention, which can be slow to react and may miss emerging threats. As opposed to conventional solutions, AI is capable of continuously learning from historical data, recognizing patterns, and predicting potential risks. Machine learning algorithms enable AI to analyze vast amounts of data in real time, identifying abnormal behaviour and raising red flags when suspicious activity occurs.

Another vital element of preventing data breaches is automated threat response. With cyber threats becoming more sophisticated and faster in execution, human intervention alone may not be sufficient to counteract attacks. Automated systems can instantly contain cyber threats, minimizing a breach’s impact. As a result, sensitive information is safeguarded from data exfiltration and unauthorized access.

A major advantage of AI-powered systems is their ability to adapt to evolving threats in real-time. Their defences are continuously updated as new attack patterns emerge. In contrast, traditional security measures require manual updates and are only as effective as the latest signatures or patches. With AI and automation, businesses can proactively anticipate and counteract evolving threats, staying one step ahead of cybercriminals.

Further, AI-driven solutions can enhance human expertise, streamlining cybersecurity teams’ work and maximizing their efficiency. By prioritizing and categorizing security alerts and incidents based on severity, AI can help analysts make well-informed decisions more quickly, rather than being overwhelmed by security alerts.

Here are some examples of how AI and automation can prevent data breaches:

  • The use of AI-powered anomaly detection systems can detect unusual patterns of activity that indicate the possibility of a data breach. It is possible, for instance, to use an AI system to monitor user login activity and identify attempts to log in from unauthorized IP addresses.
  • Vulnerability scanning systems powered by AI can detect known vulnerabilities in computer systems. By identifying and patching vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by cybercriminals, vulnerabilities can be prevented from being exploited.
  • Automated patch management systems can automatically apply security patches to computer systems. Keeping systems up-to-date with the latest security patches can help ensure their safety.
  • Automated user provisioning and de-provisioning systems can automatically create and delete user accounts. Access to sensitive data can be limited to authorized users in this way.

Yet, implementing AI and automation alone won’t guarantee complete immunity from data breaches. Security is a multi-layered approach that combines technical measures with employee education and ongoing assessments. It is crucial to regularly test AI systems and ensure their accuracy and reliability. Moreover, companies must foster a culture of security awareness among their employees, emphasizing the importance of adhering to cybersecurity best practices and guarding against social engineering and phishing attacks.

In addition, data privacy regulations are becoming increasingly strict, with steep fines for non-compliance. Businesses can improve their compliance efforts and ensure that sensitive data is appropriately protected by integrating AI and automation, reducing the risk of breaches and potential regulatory penalties.

Businesses today face a high risk of data breaches due to the digital landscape. Investing in AI and automation is a proactive and effective way to mitigate the impact of data breaches. Cyber resilience goals must be aligned with the overall business objectives for success. Here, the CFOs have a crucial role to play in addressing cybersecurity risks and this warrants meaningful conversations with the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).

Cybersecurity solutions powered by AI offer dynamic threat detection and response capabilities, augment human expertise, and adapt to evolving threats in real-time. Businesses can safeguard sensitive data and protect their reputation by incorporating these cutting-edge technologies along with other cybersecurity measures. It’s like having a watchful sentry on guard, monitoring for threats and equipped with the latest tools to act quickly and decisively when danger is detected. AI-driven security systems provide a powerful layer of defence against malicious attacks.


About the Author:

Jayajit Dash, a compelling content writer who revels in writing at the intersection of technology and policy ecosystems, has the flair to project emerging technologies in an intelligible light for the benefit of the lay reader. He is creative and persistent with the ability to quickly and effectively figure out the role of niche technologies to solve the problems of the changing landscape for businesses and governance.

He is currently engaged as a Senior Manager (Corporate Communications) with Bhubaneswar-headquartered IT consulting company CSM Technologies. He has worked as a Business journalist with India’s premier daily The Business Standard for over 13 years.

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