As our digital lives get more automated, integrated and connected, the security risks increase as well; 2018 was full of hacks and privacy scandals, ranging from healthcare breaches to blunders by Facebook and Google. Cybersecurity is more important than ever, and many experts are using AI to take that security to the next level. For CIOs, the critical questions are: How much security can AI provide, and what should the realistic expectations of AI cybersecurity be?

What makes AI cybersecurity different is its adaptability: It does not need to follow specific rules; rather, it can watch patterns and learn. Another strength of AI is its combined intelligence. A computer system consists of different software components, each with their own security protection mechanisms and log files. While a human operator would need to monitor them all and examine each individually, an AI system can find patterns across all systems. The AI can compare the timestamps and users in the log files to build a complete view over what actions each user is taking, which makes it better at unmasking malicious actions — and at discounting false alarms.

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