infoTECH Feature

July 12, 2018

Ponemon: AI Will Exacerbate Cybersecurity Skills Shortage

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about how artificial intelligence will take human jobs. But, a new study from Ponemon Institute (News - Alert) indicates that AI will actually increase the need for more highly skilled IT security staff members.

The research firm talked to more than 600 U.S. IT and security professionals in various industries for the survey. Seventy-six percent of them said they believe machine learning and artificial intelligence tools and services will only aggravate the jobs gap by increasing the need for more highly skilled IT security staff.

“One of the biggest barriers to a strong security posture is attracting and retaining the right people that can deal with complex and serious internal and external threats to the organization,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “This research reveals that despite the adoption of advanced and automated tools, the skills gap has increased, leaving organizations more vulnerable than ever before.”

Tim Helming, director of product management at DomainTools, which commissioned the survey, added this. “As cyberthreats and threat actors grow in numbers and expertise, organizations worldwide rely on both highly skilled staff and advanced technology to combat these threats. What we’ve found is that automation is great for certain low-skill tasks, and the additional work on more advanced threats must be done by a high-skilled security professional, which continue to be in very short supply.”

DomainTools provides access to database of domain registration, hosting, and other profiling information to security analysts and threat hunters. The company itself relies on machine learning to produce a domain risk score, which predicts which URLs are most likely to have malicious intent, said Helming.

But although automation is important, he added, it does not alleviate the skills shortage. In a recent interview, Helming also talked about the importance of security personnel having soft skills, such as the ability to communicate, curiosity, and being a team player.

So, if AI won’t help close the skills gap, I asked them, what will?

Ponemon suggested greater pay, saying that security experts are often paid at the same level as other IT professionals. Creating a career path for people in cybersecurity can also encourage more people to get into this space, he said.

Here are a few other key takeaways from the survey results:

  • 63 percent of respondents said human involvement in security is important in the age of automation.
  • 68 percent of respondents said automation will improve their IT security staff’s ability to do their jobs because they’ll then be able to focus on more serious vulnerabilities and overall network security.
  • 23 percent said automation will reduce their IT security staff headcount.

Companies interested in learning – or sharing information about – AI and machine learning are invited to participate in The New Intelligence.

The New Intelligence includes three unique events that will take place Jan. 30 through Feb. 1 at the Grater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Those events include:

If you’d like to suggest sessions and speakers for any of these The New Intelligence events, please input your ideas in the form at this link by July 31.

Edited by Erik Linask

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