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Pure magic: How to use GenAI in threat detection & response

Generative AI lets you fortify your digital defenses in a way that seems fantastical. Here's how you can use GAN and VAEs to take security to the next level.

Aug 28, 2023 • 4 Minute Read

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  • Security
  • AI & Machine Learning

So far, there's been a lot of talk about the threat that generative AI (aka GenAI) poses in the hands of bad actors. But just like magic, there are good and bad wizards, and GenAI can also be used as easily by Gandalf as it can by Saruman — namely, to enhance your threat detection and response.

In this article, we’ll discuss how you can use GenAI as your magical weapon against digital adversaries, repurposing it for the side of light.

How generative AI can help threat detection and response

As of 2023, mainstream cybersecurity experts now have two new tools in their arsenals: Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) and Variational Autoencoders (VAEs)

Right now, cybersecurity systems are reactive and struggle to anticipate unknown attacks. Attackers and defensive systems learn from each other, enhancing themselves based on each other’s advances, like a sort of “arms race.” 

GAN changes all that. To continue with our fantasy metaphor, GANs are like skilled sorcerers that can create uncannily realistic synthetic data which allow us to anticipate the moves of our digital adversaries before they attack (Meanwhile, bad actors are using GANs to strengthen themselves).

VAE are our data seers, diving deep into data patterns and uncovering hidden anomalies that might signify a lurking danger. 

GANs for good: How it works in terms of cyberdefense

Imagine two magicians: an illusionist and a wizard. The illusionist conjures up an image, and the wizard tries to tell if it’s real or fake. At first, the illusionist makes hazy mirages, but as the wizard critiques their work, the images get more and more real. 

Over time, the illusionist gets better at tricking the wizard, and the wizard gets better at spotting the slightest flaws in the illusion. Eventually, the illusionist gets so good anyone would be fooled by their illusions, and the wizard becomes an expert at detection.

This is pretty much how GANs work, both as detector and predictor. You can give it historical or live data, and it can identify abnormal activities or predict emerging threats. 

So how does this work in practice? Picture a cloud infrastructure teeming with user behavior data. GANs conjure replicas of user patterns, revealing deviations from the norm that could signify unauthorized access or malicious intent. GANs can also enable security teams to predict potential threats and proactively fortify their defenses.

Spotting invisible threats with VAEs

If we’re talking wizards, VAEs are our seers, helping pull back the veil and spot our enemies when it comes to threat detection. VAEs excel at unraveling the subtleties of data, learning the intricacies of normal data patterns while exposing the hidden gems of anomalies — those cyber threats disguising themselves as innocuous activities. 

Like a trusted advisor, VAEs empower security professionals to sift through data, identifying the needles of danger within a haystack of information. During a response scenario, VAEs can sound the alarm when anomalies are detected, enabling rapid response to emerging danger. 

Supplementing AI magic with human intellect

Caught up in the glitz of GANs and VAEs, it could be easy to think cybersecurity engineers might be replaced by AI. But as much as we’re anthropomorphising them as wizards and seers, Generative AI gives us insights and predictions, but it’s up to us to judge wisely and actually take action, something these tools can’t do.

Consider adding Generative AI to your cybersecurity spellbook

In the ever-shifting landscape of cybersecurity, Generative AI emerges as a luminary force that transforms threat detection and response into an enchanted art form. With GANs simulating potential threats and VAEs unearthing hidden anomalies, our defenses are fortified, and our vigilance amplified, particularly against bad actors who are using the same tricks.

Want to learn more about protecting your cloud resources with Gen AI? Check out my new ACG course, “How to Secure Cloud Infrastructure with Generative AI.”

Alternatively, Pluralsight offers a range of beginner, intermediate, and expert AI and ML courses, including dedicated courses on generative AI and tools like ChatGPT. You can sign up for a 10-day free trial with no commitments. 

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