Advances in machine learning and the broader application of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms are making waves in numerous IT sectors. This includes the crucial field of network administration, where the speed and insight that AI applications provide can improve operations considerably. However, this new technology is also forecast to bring additional risks and challenges for those who work with network security.
AI Can Supercharge Existing Network Operations and Tasks
The application of AI technology to network operations, particularly those of substantial scale such as large institutional, research, business, and governmental networks, is already underway. The use of this technology has been largely security-related in nature. Applications include building a better and more cohesive understanding of overall network vulnerability, improving responsiveness, speeding up reactions to pre-detected weaknesses, and improving the effectiveness of actions taken to combat live intrusions.
For most of these uses, the technology being put in place is largely effective through its powerful ability to scan and sort considerable amounts of network information. This can be particularly useful for unifying information from previously siloed applications and tools.
Those Who Study Network Administration Know AI Can Be a Powerful Assistant
Because of the technical nature of the work, delivering top class network services is difficult, and graduates from career colleges find themselves very much sought after amidst an industry skills shortage. A recent industry survey found as many as 70% of online security professionals felt a skills shortage had affected their organization. In this context, the key insights and large-scale work that AI technology can provide is especially attractive for organizations that have struggled with staffing and skills issues.
Recognizing the power that AI can have when wielded by knowledgeable network administrators, industry leaders like IBM and Symantec, as well as a number of newcomers, are putting forward a range of AI-powered tools to help network administrators work efficiently and effectively. This assistance is particularly valuable in an environment where AI is also being used by malicious actors hoping to find and exploit network vulnerabilities.
AI’s Deployment Within the Industry Is Already Underway
While it is tempting for those who have begun to study network administration to imagine the application of AI solutions as a sweeping solution to all network security issues, it is more accurate to describe them as helpful additions. In this respect, it is useful to pay attention to the ways in which they are packaged, with different products consisting either as supplementary programs that work very closely alongside existing security technology or as semi-independent technologies for adoption into a business’ network administration toolkit.
This underlines the existing strategy that is in place, of pushing for security along proven lines, rather than a bold step towards independent AI use. Nevertheless, the potential for AI to improve security on a broad scale—including catching malware and indexing vulnerabilities indexed on the dark web—looks to be very healthy. The technology looks likely to continue to play a real role in improving overall network administration.
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