Will AI help win the Cyber Security War?


With cyber hacks up 300% since 2012, and costing the economy roughly $27bn a year, it comes as little surprise that the cyber security industry is fast becoming a highly competitive space, with the industry expected to grow from 11.9bn to 18.5bn by 2026, representing a CAGR of 4.51%.

Cylance, a start-up founded in 2012 by Stuart McLure, the former global CTO for McAfee, took off at the perfect time. Their innovative approach to cyber security involves the use of Artificial Intelligence to identify malicious intruders, and prevent them from getting in and joining the party – think bodyguard on the door of a prestigious club in London. Their competitors, for example Crowdstrike, focus on targeting the intruders once they have already broken in – think the patrolling security guard in the club who’s constantly scanning the room for trouble.

Two very different approaches to cyber security, yet two very successful ones at the same time. Both companies have just completed their series D funding, acquiring over $100 million and gaining them entry to the elitist ‘Unicorn Club’ (a start-up valued at over $1billion). And now here’s where the plot thickens… Stuart McClure, and George Kurtz, CEO of Crowdstrike, were former partners and the best of friends.

Their joint venture Foundstone was acquired by McAfee in 2004 for $84m and resulted in them both becoming global CTOs for McAfee. However, in hot pursuit of a larger slice of the bulging $22bn dollar cyber security industry, combined with a differing of opinions, the two friends parted ways in 2012, and so came about the birth of Cylance and Crowdstrike.

The difference in their characters filters all the way through their companies with one focusing on prevention rather than detection, and visa-versa. They do share one cohesion however – their passion for fighting against cyber warfare. And with attacks no longer being limited to nations, but now extending to terrorist groups, organized crime, hackers and rogue spies, thank goodness they are.

fig.2 indicates where you may want to focus your resources, from a strategic viewpoint.

The synergy between AI and cyber security is an intriguing one, and one I personally love. I think its genius that the AI within Cylance will get smarter with every piece of data it scans by learning what thugs to look out for and deny entry to. A technology that is constantly improving itself automatically without human interaction is something that every company is striving for. How long will it be before Cyber Security is completely automated and run by AI?

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