Businesses don't get how AI cybersecurity tools work, but plan to use them anyway

Some 71% of businesses plan to use AI and machine learning in their security tools this year, though over half aren't sure what that tech really does, according to Webroot.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools are creeping into every part of the enterprise, including security. But while 71% of US businesses said they plan to spend more budget on AI and machine learning in their cybersecurity tools this year, 58% said they still aren't sure what the technology really does, according to a Webroot report released Thursday.

The primary reason businesses are turning to these tools is because cybercriminals are, the report found. Some 86% of the 200 US IT professionals surveyed said they believe cybercriminals are using AI and machine learning to attack organizations. And 36% of organizations experienced a damaging cyberattack within the last year, the report found.

Despite this, the majority of professionals said they are still extremely confident (83%) in their security measures, and that they have all the tools they need to defend themselves.

Solutions for businesses

Along with a lack of understanding about how AI and machine learning-based cybersecurity tools work, only 49% of IT professionals said they felt extremely comfortable using these tools, the report found. This demonstrates the disconnect that remains when it comes to these emerging technologies, and the need for more education or support from experts in the field, who can be hard to come by.

"AI and ML continue to present a troubling knowledge gap, particularly given the amount of confusing hype in the cybersecurity industry," Hal Lonas, CTO of Webroot, said in a press release. "A company cannot properly defend against advanced AI and ML attacks when less than half of its IT professionals are comfortable using the tools needed to defend against those attacks."

The report, unsurprisingly, recommends businesses partner with vendors to deliver effective cybersecurity solutions. While 70% of professionals surveyed said it was very important to them that vendors mention the use of AI and machine learning in their advertising, it's also important for them to thoroughly research any third party company, including reading reviews and speaking to current clients.