What’s Next in Cybersecurity?

What do AI and college students have in common? They could be the future of cybersecurity. As a company that helps facilities implement cybersecurity solutions, it is helpful to stay on top of what’s going on in the industry. And while these two new generation buckets may not be directly related to OT cybersecurity at the moment, you never know what kind of influence they could have down the line. So, let’s get into what we’re talking about.

AI: The Next Cybersecurity Influencer?

The topic of Artificial Intelligence seems to be everywhere at this point. As Heather Wishart-Smith at Forbes points out, “It’s clear that artificial intelligence has moved beyond merely a curiosity of the future, as generative AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot, DALL-E2 image generator, and the CarynAI and Replika virtual companions are being adopted by everyone.” And now cybersecurity is no different. In fact, the merging relationship between AI and cybersecurity was all the rage at the RSA Conference hosted in April. Cybersecurity professionals and government officials came together to discuss both the concerns and benefits that come with this trend.

On one hand, Generative AI, in particular, has the potential to make it easier for hackers to break and enter. Experts warn that attackers could use AI to write software that allows them to bypass barriers, access networks, and steal data. On the other hand, it can also help defenders enhance their strategies. According to the Washington Post’s reporting on the subject, AI can scan networks for unusual or alarming activity, automate security tasks, and identify vulnerabilities. Regardless, it’s clear that this is a development demanding attention, which organizations like the National Science Foundation are already responding to. The foundation announced that it is joining other agencies in investing  $140 million into seven research institutions devoted to AI and cybersecurity.

Like Raef Meeuwisse, author of Cybersecurity for Beginners, puts it, “AI is a meta-invention, a groundbreaking human achievement that generates and redefines other inventions.” Needless to say, we’ll be keeping our eyes on the trajectory of its impact on cybersecurity.

College Campuses: The Next Cybersecurity Hubs?

Now that we’ve covered AI, we’re left with college students. Where do they come in on the path to the future of cybersecurity? Other than making up the next generation of cybersecurity professionals, college students could be the digital security consultants that businesses reach out to for quick assistance with cyber issues.

While federal agencies are tied up with large-scale cybersecurity problems, cyberattacks on smaller, local organizations are going under the radar. To fix this, universities are looking into establishing cybersecurity centers run by trained students. The University of Texas at Austin is one such school. It plans to launch a pilot project that offers a 311 cyber emergency hotline for local businesses to contact, which has CISA Director Jen Easterly inspired. According to Wired, Easterly said that she would consider a nationwide 311 line similar to the one UT of Austin intends to test out.

Austin isn’t the only location. Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts has plans for a similar program. Who knows…these centers could end up helping companies solve their AI cybersecurity problems or utilizing AI to correct the cybersecurity problems.


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