March 20, 2019,   2:42 PM

How AI Can Help Secure A Digital Workplace

Saif M Mashat


digital workplace

Image source: Shutterstock

Despite the hype that exists around it, we have to remember that in its current format, AI is actually quite limited with what it can offer. Why? Because AI and machine learning (ML) are based on data—they don’t have opinions of their own.

As a society, we are starting to interchange the terms AI and ML without fully understanding what the nuances are between them. AI can be described as intelligent machines that mirror a human’s approach to solving challenges. An extension of this is machine learning, which is the act of leveraging vast amounts of data to automate a response.

These concepts are not new, but have been made possible thanks to huge amounts of data being generated by systems, increasing internet scale and reach and better computing resources.

We know that automated processes can help with productivity and empower the workforce to express their creativity. However, companies are struggling to find a balance between employee experience and maintaining the sufficient levels of security required within the enterprise. Two crucial attributes that can help with this are insights and intelligence. So how can businesses harness the power of AI to help build these qualities?

CEOs who are now responsible for digital security, are heavily reliant on the IT function to deliver this. If a business doesn’t know where a device is being logged into, by which employee and which applications they’re accessing, how can they ensure that their enterprise is secure? Visibility is a core part of a security approach, because the traditional perimeter methods are obsolete and more sophisticated attacks are inevitable. Businesses need to view the entire digital workspace across all endpoints, apps, networks and user experience, to enable them to pin point what is and isn’t working in the environment and adopt a zero-trust approach to security.

Businesses now understand the importance of data in the workplace, but we have to seek it out in order for the data to work for us. We need to find patterns in data to determine the next course of action. Only recently, have systems evolved to analyse this data at scale, correlate it against the employee and apply it to a business context—in this case security. So how can AI help companies stay one step ahead of the cyber threats we face today?

We know that our workforce demands access anywhere and everywhere. With more devices comes multiple complexities, making enterprises even more vulnerable to threats. The amount of data generated through employee interactions—the time of login, where a device is being logged into, which department is accessing which application—surmounts to billions of individual events and terabytes of data.

Humans cannot manually stitch this information together in a cohesive manner. Businesses need to leverage AI to derive these insights and answer the most critical security problems. Automation means the appropriate action can then be executed automatically—whether that might be an app denying access to an individual, or a patch update to a particular group of devices.

Retailers for example, will be able to identify if a credit card machine isn’t working and have pre-prepared back-up plans based on different predictions. Healthcare will be able to provide the most secure environment to their clinicians and enable them to deliver improved patient care through mobile working, safe in the knowledge that patient data won’t be compromised.

It’s not just enterprises, the management of sensors in smart cities, or the improvement of data security in school districts are other use cases for a comprehensive intelligence-driven cloud-based service that can provide intelligence and visibility.

It is no longer acceptable to use security as an excuse for poor employee experience. Employees demand the latest tools and devices, with one-click access to corporate resources, while maintaining high levels of security. The only way this can be achieved is through AI.

Saif M Mashat is Country Manager – Saudi Arabia at VMware.

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