AI: A Remedy for Human Error?

Human error is one of the greatest causes of data breaches worldwide, but the seeming inevitability of it makes human error especially dangerous

While malicious or criminal attacks can be combatted by state-of-the-art cybersecurity software, and while you can prepare for IT failures with a diligent backup strategy, human error is still in need of a remedy.

Humans are naturally prone to making mistakes. Such errors are increasingly impactful in the workplace, but human error in the realm of cybersecurity can have particularly devastating and long-lasting effects. As the digital world becomes more complex, it becomes much tougher to navigate – and thus, more unfair to blame humans for the errors they make. Employees should be given as much help and support as possible.

But employees are not often provided with the appropriate security solutions, so they resort to well-intentioned workarounds in order keep pace and get the job done. As data continues to flow faster and more freely than ever before, it becomes more tempting to just upload that document from your personal laptop, or click on that link, or share that info to your personal email.

Take, for instance, one of the most common security problems: phishing emails. An employee might follow instructions in a phishing email not only because it looks authentic, but that it conveys some urgency (usually from a manager or someone else of importance). Employee training can help reduce the likelihood of error, but solving the technological shortcoming is more effective: if a phishing email is blocked from delivery in the first place, we can help mitigate the human error factor.

This is where artificial intelligence can be a game-changer. We already use AI to simplify our home lives, using it to perform a variety of tasks, from turning on lights, to playing our favourite music. But if AI solutions are deployed in the workplace, we can help address the biggest elephant in the IT room: data security.

Data security is a major area of concern, and it’s likely the leading cause for lost hours – and lost sleep – for security and IT professionals. According to a recent survey of over 500 IT professionals in the financial services industry, a whopping 94% said that they lack confidence in the ability of employees, consultants, and partners to safeguard customer data. And because cybersecurity is a complex domain – with many unknowns and moving parts – the rigid, conventional solutions can’t be effective. However, AI solutions can learn, adapt, and dynamically react to an organisation’s cybersecurity needs.

Not to worry, though – this is a far cry from the sensationalistic sci-fi scenes of a robot takeover. Yes, AI can solve complex problems with a level of consistency and speed that’s unmatched by human intelligence. But it can’t replace human intelligence where it’s needed most: we must choose the right problems to solve. Once we identify this, we can start collecting the right data, designing the right solution, and creating the right processes for our AI solutions to adapt, learn from feedback, and produce results.

AI can also provide employees with more time to tackle the impactful tasks of the business. Consider the case of phishing emails again: Even if the employee properly deletes that email, they’ve still spent valuable time in security training sessions, and in evaluating that email for potential threats. With an AI-based solution that detects phishing emails before they’re delivered, the employee’s time and efforts can be much better spent.

Many believe that AI will replace human intelligence, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, AI exists to empower human intelligence – it can take on the heavy lifting of data security, freeing up human intelligence to tackle the high-level issues that require creativity, experienced problem-solving capabilities, and a passion to drive the business to success.

Free time to boost skills, grow aspirations and achieve goals? For employees at most modern businesses, it’s the greatest gift they could possibly receive.

About the Author

Charles Eagan is Chief Technology Officer at BlackBerry. BlackBerry is a mobile-native software and services company dedicated to securing the Enterprise of Things. BlackBerry Secure software provides the embedded intelligence for the Enterprise of Things so that the Internet of Things can thrive.