As the Equifax breach demonstrated, companies working with sensitive data are increasing targets for cyberattacks. To combat ongoing threats to confidential information, more companies are looking to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning solutions for better data monitoring and protection.
One tool from Accenture, called SCAML (Scalable Classification through Machine Learning), automatically determines and labels the sensitivity of documents to help users better apply appropriate data protections and controls.
Unstructured data is growing at a rate of 40-50% per year, making it unrealistic to wade through it all manually, according to Malek Ben Salem, a senior principal at Accenture Labs. SCAML works by automatically classifying unstructured data in any format, including emails and documents. "The goal is to help organizations with the challenge of classifying huge amounts of unstructured data," Ben Salem said.
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SCAML was trained on samples of confidential data and documents. It can extract key distinguishing characteristics that make those documents classified as highly confidential or sensitive, such as social security or credit card numbers.
The US Department of Commerce estimates that US companies lose about $250 billion annually due to intellectual property threats, Ben Salem said. SCAML can help businesses identify such information, and protect it accordingly, she added.
Tools like this allow companies to get more value out of all of the other security controls they may have in place, Ben Salem said, because those controls will be applied to the live data. "The first step to protecting the data asset is finding out what's highly valuable, and where it's located," she added.
Solutions that tap AI and machine learning to do the technical heavy lifting can also empower the business side to take control of cybersecurity. "This is designed for the business to protect the business' data, not IT," Ben Salem said.
AI and security
The cyber threat landscape is "constantly changing and getting more and more sophisticated," Ben Salem said.
"Artificial intelligence is the future of cybersecurity," Ben Salem said. "There are a million cybersecurity roles that will go unfilled all over the world by 2021, and we cannot fill those roles without the help or artificial intelligence."
It's also impossible to detect the thousands of malware attacks companies face each day without AI, Ben Salem said—especially as attackers are using AI themselves in creating and deploying their attacks.
Security professionals should start to expand their skills into AI and machine learning, Ben Salem said. Indeed, some 39% of organizations are already reliant on automation for cybersecurity, 34% are reliant on machine learning, and 32% are highly reliant on AI, according to a recent Cisco report.
- 10 ways to minimize fileless malware infections (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Artificial intelligence key to do 'more with less' in securing enterprise cloud services (ZDNet)
- Machine learning: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- Five tech jobs that AI and automation will make radically more efficient (ZDNet)
- The top 10 highest-paying AI jobs (TechRepublic)
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.