Generative AI in Cybersecurity: How It’s Being Used + 8 Examples
In a recent survey by McKinsey, 40% of respondents said their organizations plan to increase their overall AI investment because of advancements in generative AI.
Despite the relatively recent public availability of generative AI, it is already fundamentally changing the way people do business. While marketing and sales, product and service development, and service operations are the business functions where gen AI is most commonly applied, cybersecurity is also ripe for disruption.
In this article, we’ll explore the ways generative AI is impacting the cybersecurity industry — for good and bad. We’ll also focus on specific use cases of generative AI in cybersecurity today.
35+ AI Statistics to Better Understand Its Role in Cybersecurity
How generative AI is threatening cybersecurity
Malicious attackers are seizing the potential of generative AI to launch cyber attacks that are harder to detect and defend against. Let’s take a look at some of the risks of generative AI below.
Increasingly sophisticated attacks
Hackers are using gen AI to launch increasingly sophisticated attacks, like self-evolving malware. These strains of malware use gen AI to “self-evolve” and create variations with unique techniques, payloads, and polymorphic code to attack a specific target and go undetected by existing security measures.
Larger volumes of attacks
Hackers are also using gen AI to launch larger volumes of attacks. In a report by Deep Instinct, 75% of security professionals witnessed an increase in attacks over the past 12 months, with 85% attributing this rise to bad actors using generative AI.
Lack of risk management
While adoption of gen AI is rising, efforts to manage the risks introduced by gen AI are lagging behind. In a recent report by Riskconnect, 93% of companies recognize the risks associated with using generative AI inside the enterprise but only 9% say they’re prepared to manage the threat.
Organizations that increase their adoption of gen AI without simultaneously updating and bolstering their risk management strategy will increase their risk exposure.
Many developers are turning to generative AI to improve their productivity. However, a Stanford study found that software engineers who use code-generating AI systems are more likely to cause security vulnerabilities in the apps they develop. As more developers lacking the expertise or time to spot and remediate code vulnerabilities use generative AI, more cpde vulnerabilities will be introduced than can be exploited by hackers.
How Artificial Intelligence Is Shaping the Future of Cybersecurity
How generative AI is improving cybersecurity
Gen AI is also helping make security teams more accurate, efficient, and productive in defending their organizations — let’s look at how below.
Supplementing understaffed security teams
AI is being used to supplement security teams and improve security outcomes. Most IT executives (93%) are already using or considering implementing AI and ML to enhance their security capabilities. These AI adopters are already reporting performance improvements in the triage of Tier 1 threats, detection of zero-day attacks and threats, and reduction of false positives and noise.
As a result of these early indicators of success, more than half of executives (52%) say generative AI will help them better allocate resources, capacity, talent, or skills.
Detecting threats in real time
Threat detection is one of the top use cases of generative AI today. By using it to identify patterns and anomalies faster, more efficiently filter incident alerts, and reject false positives, organizations are able to significantly speed up their ability to detect new threat vectors.
Enhancing threat intelligence
Generative AI is also being used to enhance threat intelligence. Previously, analysts would have to use complex query languages, operations, and reverse engineering to analyze vast amounts of data to understand threats. Now, they can use generative AI algorithms that automatically scan code and network traffic for threats and provide rich insights that help analysts understand the behavior of malicious scripts and other threats.
Automating security patching
Generative AI can automate the analysis and application of patches. Using neural networks, it can scan codebases for vulnerabilities and apply or suggest appropriate patches using natural language processing (NLP) pattern matching or a machine learning algorithm known as the K-nearest neighbors (KNN) algorithm.
Improving incident response
Another successful application of generative AI in cybersecurity is in incident response. Generative AI can provide security analysts with response strategies based on successful tactics used in past incidents, which can help speed up incident response. Gen AI can also continue to learn from incidents to adapt these response strategies over time. Organizations can use generative AI to automate the creation of incident response reports as well.
Artificial Intelligence: The Next Big Leap for Security Compliance
Generative AI in cybersecurity examples
Now that we understand some of the general applications of generative AI in cybersecurity, let’s take a look at some specific cybersecurity tools that use generative AI.
Secureframe Comply AI for Risk
Secureframe Comply AI for Risk was recently launched to automate the risk assessment process to save organizations time and resources.
Using only a risk description and company information, Comply AI for Risk produces detailed insights into a risk, including the likelihood and impact of a risk before a response, a treatment plan to respond to the risk, and the residual likelihood and impact of the risk after treatment. These detailed outputs from Comply AI for Risk help organizations better understand the potential impact of a risk and proper mitigation methods, improving their risk awareness and response.
Secureframe Comply AI for Remediation
Secureframe launched Comply AI for Remediation to provide a more contextual, accurate, and tailored user experience for remediating failed tests so organizations can quickly fix cybersecurity issues and speed up time-to-compliance.
Comply AI for Remediation provides remediation guidance that’s tailored to users’ environment and so they can easily update the underlying issue causing the failing configuration in their environment. This enables them to fix failing controls to pass tests, get audit-ready faster, and improve their overall security and compliance posture.
Users can also ask follow-up questions using the chatbot in order to get additional details about the remediation code or to provide more tailored guidance for their specific security and compliance requirements.
Tenable launched ExposureAI to provide new and rich insights to analysts to make exposure management more accessible. These new generative AI capabilities help analysts search, analyze, and make decisions about exposures faster by:
- allowing analysts to use natural language search queries to search for specific exposure and asset data
- summarizing the complete attack path in a written narrative so analysts can understand exposures better
- surfacing high-risk exposure insights and recommending actions so analysts can more easily prioritize and remediate high-risk exposures
Ironscales Phishing Simulation Testing
Ironscales launched GPT-powered Phishing Simulation Testing (PST) as a beta feature. This tool uses Ironscales' proprietary large language model to generate phishing simulation testing campaigns that are personalized to employees and the advanced phishing attacks they may encounter.
The goal is to help organizations rapidly personalize their security awareness training to combat the rise and sophistication of socially engineered attacks.
ZeroFox has developed FoxGPT, a generative AI tool designed to accelerate the analysis and summarization of intelligence across large datasets. It can help security teams analyze and contextualize malicious content, phishing attacks, and potential account takeovers.
SentinelOne Purple AI
SentinelOne unveiled a generative AI-powered threat hunting platform that combines real-time, embedded neural networks and a large language model (LLM)-based natural language interface to help analysts identify, analyze, and mitigate threats faster.
Using natural language, analysts can ask complex threat and adversary-hunting questions and run operational commands to manage their enterprise environment and get rapid, accurate, and detailed responses back in seconds. Purple AI can also analyze threats and provide insights on the identified behavior alongside recommended next steps.
VirusTotal Code Insight
VirusTotal Code Insight uses Sec-PaLM, one of the generative AI models hosted on Google Cloud AI, to produce natural language summaries of code snippets. This can help security teams analyze and understand the behavior of potentially malicious scripts. VirusTotal Code Insight is meant to serve as a powerful assistant to cybersecurity analysts, working 24/7 to enhance their overall performance and effectiveness.
Secureframe Questionnaire Automation
Responding to security questionnaires can be a tedious and time-consuming process for security analysts and other stakeholders, with questions varying from customer to customer and no standardized format, set, or order of questions.
Secureframe’s Questionnaire Automation uses generative AI to streamline and automate the process. This tool suggests questionnaire responses using content and context from the Secureframe platform along with approved prior responses to deliver greater accuracy. After quickly reviewing the answers and making any adjustments as needed, users can then share completed questionnaires back to prospects and customers in their original format.
AI in Cybersecurity: How It’s Used + 6 Latest Developments
What your organization can do in response to generative AI in cybersecurity
Below are some steps your organization can take right now to start defending your organization against generative AI risks.
1. Update employee training
Take the time to evaluate and update employee training around generative AI. This training should reflect the sophistication of cyber attacks leveraging generative AI, including increasingly convincing phishing emails and deep fake calls and videos.
Consider including guardrails for using generative AI tools in employee training as well.
2. Define acceptable generative AI use in policies
While a recent report by ExtraHop revealed that 32% of organizations have banned the use of generative AI tools, leading organizations like the AICPA are recommending that organizations update their security policies to promote safe usage of AI tools since it’s inevitable. Key considerations include:
- providing examples of acceptable use
- limiting usage to one or two reputable tools which the employee has been properly trained upon
- prohibiting the use of any AI chatbot tool that has not been previously vetted by the IT department and approved by the employee’s supervisor
3. Use generative AI to bolster your defenses
Since generative AI is a double-edged sword, make sure to use it to your advantage. For example, you can deploy generative AI solutions to detect threats with the speed, scale, and sophistication as nefarious actors are launching them. You can also use it to automate routine tasks that don’t require as much human expertise or judgment, like threat hunting.
When used strategically in these ways, generative AI and automation can help your organization identify and respond to security risks and incidents faster and at scale.
How Secureframe’s generative AI capabilities can improve cybersecurity at your organization
Secureframe continues to expand its AI capabilities to help customers:
- Automate the risk assessment process to improve their risk awareness and response
- Fix failing controls to pass tests and get audit-ready faster
- Respond to security questionnaires and RFPs quickly and accurately to close more deals and grow their revenue
How is generative AI used in cybersecurity?
Generative AI is being used to strengthen organizations’ cybersecurity by augmenting security teams’ capabilities to detect, analyze, and respond to threats faster and more efficiently and by automating routine tasks like incident response reporting. Gen AI is also being used by cyber criminals to leverage more and increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks, like deepfake video calls.
What is generative AI and an example?
Generative AI is a type of AI that uses deep-learning models or algorithms to automatically create text, photos, videos, code, and other output based on the datasets they are trained on. The most-well known example is ChatGPT, an AI-powered language model developed by OpenAI.
Can cybersecurity be automated by generative AI?
Parts of cybersecurity can be automated by generative AI, including threat detection, analysis, and response; however, it can’t entirely replace human experts. For example, while generative AI tools can identify known attack patterns and predict new ones, human analysts can confirm real threats from false positives based on their deeper, contextual understanding of their organization’s unique systems, networks, and operational environment.