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AI & Cybersecurity: A Balancing Act For Businesses

8 min. read

Shelby Lee Neubeck

Shelby Lee Neubeck

24 February, 2023

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AI & Cybersecurity: A Balancing Act

You’ve probably heard a lot about Artificial Intelligence (AI) by now; it’s got everyone’s attention. But, what exactly is AI? Is it a robotic being rising up to take over the world or something more useful (and less frightening)? The answer lies somewhere in the middle.

AI refers to the ability of machines to learn from tasks that normally require human intervention, such as data, task performance, speech recognition, decision-making, or even the creation of art. It’s like having a hyper-intelligent assistant that can do almost anything if given the resources.

However, like any good assistant, AI comes with risks and challenges. When using AI, it’s important to understand the potential pitfalls, such as lack of data ownership, misuse, and security threats. It’s not quite a robot overlord situation, but it’s still treacherous.

Despite the risks and challenges, AI has potential. From medical breakthroughs to more efficient processes, AI may transform everything. So, let’s take a closer look at the world of AI to explore some of the benefits, risks, and best practices.

Benefits of AI

The benefits of AI go far beyond the ability to automate your shopping list or converse with you. For starters, AI is revolutionising healthcare by analysing blood samples and using pattern recognition to detect diseases faster and more accurately. Instead of anxiously browsing WebMD, an AI tool could help doctors make sense of your symptoms.

But that’s not all: AI can also help educators tailor their teaching methods to the needs of individual students, potentially giving each student the personal attention they need to succeed. In the financial sector, AI is enabling banks and finance companies to analyse data and make more informed decisions. And for individuals, it can help them make more informed financial decisions about their own assets.

From advanced scientific analysis to environmental research, AI is truly transforming every industry. AI has the potential to improve the world we live in. If it’s used responsibly and ethically, the possibilities are truly endless.

How Businesses Are Using AI

Businesses are turning to AI to automate routine tasks and increase productivity. Some companies are using AI-powered chatbots to handle customer service queries, freeing up employees to focus on more complex tasks. According to a 2022 Gartner report, more than 70% of all customer interactions involve some form of AI.

Companies also utilise AI to help them make informed decisions. Financial institutions have adopted AI, using it to detect fraud and to perform risk analysis. This expands loan availability, with AI reviewing applications quicker and approving 27% more loan applications and providing 16% lower interest rates. The largest bank in Denmark, Danske Bank also reported AI has improved accuracy by 50% when detecting fraud and reduced false positives by 60%. See more stats at datamation.

In marketing, AI is being used to create more targeted campaigns based on customer data. According to a Salesforce study, marketers have reported a 186% increase in AI adoption since 2018.

While this information is compelling, as with most technology, it’s important to understand the risks to you, your business, and your customers. AI chatbots, for example, need to be designed with security in mind to ensure they’re not open to exploitation by hackers.

As the adoption of AI continues to grow, it’s vital that businesses remain alert and address these concerns. With measures in place to prioritise data privacy and security, organisations can fully embrace the benefits of AI without putting themselves or their customers at risk.

Security Threats of AI

We’ve all seen the movies where robots rise up and take over the world. That’s definitely an exaggeration, but there are certainly threats when it comes to the use of AI. Here are some of the biggest security threats you should be aware of:

Data Ownership

A major concern is data ownership. AI can pose some serious security risks if companies don’t maintain ownership of their data. They could be vulnerable to cyberattacks and many forms of data theft. Data is such an important asset and should be protected every step of the way.

At passbolt, we believe in the importance of data ownership and allowing users to remain in control of their data. Some AI tools are less interested in allowing this. By keeping data under lock and key, organisations can have more control over the information they access. They can also have peace of mind knowing that their private information is secure.

Lack of transparency and accountability

AI is a black box of algorithms and calculations that can leave even experts scratching their heads. It’s like trusting a toddler with your car keys — you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen. Without transparency, it’s hard to know what AI is doing with your data or how it’s making decisions. And when you throw accountability into the mix, things get even murkier.

Who’s responsible when things go wrong? The AI? The developers? The person who trained it? The company who funded it? It could turn into a game of hot potato, only the potato is your data and it’s being passed around faster than you can say “data breach.”

Don’t let your data be hidden — make sure you know what’s going on behind the scenes. Ask questions, demand transparency, and hold companies accountable.

Data Integrity

When it comes to AI and data integrity, there are a few risks to keep in mind. AI bias can occur, skewing data and making it less reliable than a Magic 8 Ball. This results in poor quality information, based on the AI’s preconceived notions or incomplete data.

Simpsons “outlook not so good” gif

When AI’s suffer from bias they perpetuate prejudices and exclusion bias. Often data used to train the model isn’t representative of all populations. It’s important to select and balance the training data used to create an AI model.

False positives and negatives are another major threat to data integrity. They can have serious consequences in areas such as medical diagnosis, criminal investigations, autonomous driving, and more. Imagine receiving treatment after being misdiagnosed, being falsely identified as a suspect in a crime, or getting into an accident because your autonomous car didn’t see a stopped fire engine.

Finally, AI can simply miss things. This can be a big problem when it comes to finding inconsistencies or anomalies in your data. Which can really put a damper on things when it comes to sensitive data or high-stakes decisions.

With the right AI training and safeguards in place, AI can be steered in the right direction. But, on your end, it’s important to make sure the data you’re provided with is accurate and reliable.

System Manipulation

AI opens the door to a whole new realm of security threats, from data theft to attacks on the AI models themselves. It’s a lot to wrap your head around. AI’s ability to process massive quantities of data gives hackers a whole new playground to work with. And if a hacker can breach an AI, they could manipulate it to their advantage, leaving your private information vulnerable to theft or manipulation.

Cybercriminals could change the data being fed into the models, leading to incorrect outputs or complete system failure. As the stakes get even higher, the security of AI models is a growing concern.

Privacy Violations

With any technology, there’s a risk that personal data could be used in ways that violate people’s privacy. But with AI, it’s more threatening because of the sheer amount of data and capabilities involved. Some AI-powered systems track movements or behaviour patterns. This raises concerns about potential misuse of data. When choosing an AI tool, it’s important to consider how the data is used and read through the privacy policies involved.


Relying too heavily on AI can create vulnerabilities in any system. In particular, if an AI system fails or is compromised, it can have a significant impact on an organisation’s operations and security. A balance between AI and human oversight is essential.

Misuse & Disinformation

AI has made it easier than ever to create fake video, audio, and even text that is incredibly convincing. This is a goldmine for anyone who wants to spread false information or manipulate others. While the technology to detect these fakes is improving, it’s still a slow race.

AI can also be used to surveil people cheaper and better than ever before. It’s not hard to see how this could be abused. But, what’s even more worrying is the weaponization of AI as it becomes more advanced, the potential for AI warfare increases, which opens up a whole range of issues. And let’s not forget about the rise of ransomware attacks.

It’s more important than ever to be vigilant about your online security and to question the information you see online.

Simpsons “To be fair, not all evil robots are killers.” gif

Impacts of Threats

The impact of AI security threats is far-reaching and can have serious consequences. Financial loss is one of the most obvious, as data breaches and other incidents can result in stolen funds or costly recovery efforts. It’s not just the immediate financial impact that can be damaging — loss of customer trust and negative impact to reputation can have long term effects.

These security threats can also have legal consequences, depending on the scope of the data involved, the misuse, and the scale. Companies may face legal action or fines from regulators or affected parties. And on a more personal level, identity theft is a serious concern that can cause significant disruption to an individual’s life.

Overall, the implications are significant and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Be proactive and take steps to protect yourself and your business from potential damage.

Best Practices

By taking steps to protect privacy and security, companies can continue to reap the many benefits of AI while minimising the risks. Ensuring proper data ownership and management is crucial for protection. In addition, businesses may choose to keep certain AI processes on-premises to maintain greater control over their data and avoid potential vulnerabilities that could arise from third-party cloud services.

Specific security measures

There are a number of security measures that businesses and individuals should consider when securing AI. Vendor security is crucial; you don’t want to entrust your valuable data to an unverified AI system. Make sure your AI provider is reputable and has strong protocols in place.

When it comes to AI and PII, it’s important to find a tool that stays on the good side of GDPR. Keeping you and your customers’ data safe starts with researching the AI tool and the company behind it. Then, make sure you have a data protection agreement that follows GDPR recommendations.

User training is also important. Your employees should be able to recognize potential threats and know how to respond appropriately. After all, you don’t want them falling for the digital equivalent of a Nigerian prince scam.

Regular audits of AI tools can help you identify any inconsistencies, vulnerabilities, and prevent your data from being exploited. Encryption is another important part of AI security, adding a layer of data protection while it’s in transit or at rest.

Maintain control while still using AI

Another key aspect of security is maintaining control. Sounds simple, right? Be responsible and deliberate with your data. Make sure the AI you’re using has robust data quality control. Internally, setup data classification and limit access to confidential data to protect sensitive information

Policies & Procedures

Have clear policies and procedures in place. Having an incident response plan in place can help businesses respond quickly and effectively address any security breaches. Establish guidelines for AI interactions to ensure that AI is used responsibly and ethically. And remind your employees not to share sensitive or personal data. It’s like the old saying “loose lips sink ships,” or in this case, “loose data sinks businesses.”

Wrapping Up

As we wrap up, it’s important to remember that AI can be an exceptional tool for businesses and individuals alike. But, cybersecurity should always remain a top priority. At passbolt, we’re proud to help users stay safe and protected, with a focus on data ownership, user control, and code audited thoroughly by a third party.

Our commitment to security doesn’t stop with our platform. We also strive to protect users by educating them on the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity. So remember, while there are many risks, with the right approach and tools you can take full advantage of the benefits of AI without compromising security.