AI & Automation: The Changing Landscape of Cybersecurity for MSMEs

Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are transforming the IT ecosystem to create new opportunities and enhance existing business operations. They are moving into the MSME space in a big way, showing up everywhere as a major force. In many cases, start-ups are succeeding in using AI to shape their business models and processes, but their success hinges on how well they integrate AI capabilities into their tools and offerings viz. solutions, services, products and platforms. Additionally, the rising occurrences of cybersecurity breaches in the last few years underpins the need for a paradigm shift in how businesses strategize to stay relevant and thrive.

The emerging skill gap in cybersecurity
The landscape for MSMEs is dynamic. The need for cybersecurity software and services has never been greater. Additionally, with the growing threat of cybersecurity breaches, there is a significant need for small businesses to bolster their financial resources and expertise in cybersecurity. Fortinet’s 2022 Cyber Security Skill Gap Report explores the emerging problem of technical know-how gaps in cybersecurity through a survey of 1,223 IT decision-makers in countries across the globe. The survey revealed that 67% of the respondents agreed that the shortage of qualified cybersecurity candidates substantially increases the risk of breaches.
Leveraging AI and Automation to bridge the gap
A growing number of organizations, Including MSMEs are relying on mobile platforms, remote work and other shifts to increase productivity while still remaining “connected at all times.” These deployments are increasingly enabling them to achieve their goals of higher quality service delivery and improved performance. However, these alternatives create new security challenges due to the seamless access to limitless data.
Cyber criminals today are able to leverage AI, Machine Learning and automation to expedite the full length of an attack within a matter of hours. The next few years will see attackers collecting data of all kinds and rapidly expanding into areas such as vehicle electronics, transportation networks, energy infrastructure, and power plants.
As cyber-attacks increase and become more sophisticated, organizations must expand their reach to prevent and mitigate adversaries. In order to do so, they need to look beyond traditional security defences and implement new solutions that leverage AI.
According to IBM, the average cost of data breaches in 2022 was $4.35 million globally due to prolonged detection and response time to contain threats. In 2022. However, the companies with a fully deployed AI and automation program enabling fast detection and response time to threats, saved $3.05 million.
AI and Automation capabilities for better threat neutralization
Zero-trust architecture (ZTA)
As hybrid work becomes the norm, the reliance on ubiquitous data through the cloud, integration of IoT exposes vulnerabilities. Instead of focusing on static parameters, a ZTA focuses on users, assets and resources limiting access to sensitive information as opposed to higher risk posed by decentralized data.
Behavioural Analytics
Behavioral analytics solutions can be used to monitor and analyze user requests by analyzing the activities of employees on their devices and computers. Additionally, these tools can monitor network traffic and evaluate users to identify abnormal behavior or malicious intent. This allows organizations to prevent inappropriate usage of devices, websites or services while also preparing for and responding to cyber incidents that could result in large-scale damage.
Elastic Log Monitoring
It is becoming increasingly difficult for organizations to operate in the cyber space. As data keeps growing, businesses are under pressure to monitor and analyze the data flowing through their systems. The challenge of monitoring activity combined with advancements such as big data and IoT make log management a challenging process. The solution? Using open-source platforms such as elastic log monitoring, which allows companies to pull log data from anywhere in their organization into a single location and then search, analyze, and visualize the data in real time.
AI-powered customer contact centres
AI-powered customer contact centres are a cost-effective alternative to traditional outsourcing models and can be up and running in no time. This has significant implications for MSMEs as they need solutions that are easily deployable and cost-effective. Conversational bots can be trained in minutes and have the ability to easily carry on conversations without needing any additional training.
No organization, especially in the MSME space, is immune to the radical shift in security breaches across the globe. Advances in technology, disruptions of traditional business processes and growing opportunities have created a new need for cybersecurity — one that synchronizes to an increasingly complex global business environment, enhances the effectiveness of business processes and improves organizational efficiency.


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