Welcome to the third wave

Welcome to the third wave

The days of organisations relying on a lone security guard with a flashlight are over. We have seen the first wave of analogue-powered tech with cameras, and are now nearing the end of the second wave of smarter security solutions like video monitoring software. Now it’s time to say hello to the third wave: artificial intelligence and data, says Cora Lydon.

As the world of technology continues to rapidly evolve, the security sector is no exception. Artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a transformative force within the industry, promising to revolutionise the way we approach security and risk management. Is this the natural evolution for the sector, or could we be on the brink of a revolution?

For several years the security sector has been quietly evolving, developing new AI-powered applications and taking a new direction that many had predicted. But many in the industry feel we’re on the brink of a revolution that will see AI technology well and truly embedded into the security landscape.

Richard Burns, Chairman of Intelligent Security Systems – ISS, said: “Honestly, I don’t see an enterprise security project without the need for a lesser or greater degree of AI.”

Hani Khalaf, Chief Technical Officer of IoT at Dell Technologies, agrees, but speaking at a recent SecurMiddleEast event suggested that we may not quite appreciate just how impactful AI will be until the future.

He said: “Usually we overestimate the tech in the short run and underestimate it in the long run. So I think much of the solution now is everyone is promising you everything but I think it needs to mature. But in the long run, it will have a big impact on the industry by and large.”

Making waves

It may feel like AI is very much the buzzword for 2023, yet ISS has been deploying neural networks in its solutions for over a decade already. So why has it taken so long for AI to rise to the top of the security conversation?

Burns explained: “Simply because manufacturers have overpromised and under-delivered. Accuracy rates are substandard. Implementations are over-complicated and, consequently, expensive. False positives are frustrating integrators and end users alike. “Like a lot of aspects of our industry, it’s a mixture of software sophistication, ease of integration, and, far from last, real-time experience in the field making the systems work to their maximum capacity.” Right now the AI landscape is dominated by the rapid popularity of the dialogue-based AI chatbot, ChatGPT. It’s believed the service gained more than one million registered users in just five days – making it the fastest-growing tech platform ever. This third wave of security holds unprecedented potential in transforming the security landscape and its trajectory is powered by data, analytics, and AI software.

Data is key

Data is nothing new in security – for decades the industry has been generating data. But data only becomes intelligent when it’s readable. Aluisio Figueiredo, Chief Executive Officer of ISS believes that AI is just the tip of the iceberg for this next security revolution. “I think the third wave now is data,” he explained. “What we are doing now is converting video into searchable data. So what’s the next wave? Building dashboards, understanding KPIs. For example, I’ll give a good example that we are working on now. When we find the subject of interest, how about his social media, for example, what is out there? “This is not physical security, it’s more IT security. They’re going to search the database, collect and structure data, match with the AI, the facial, and then we have a profile of this subject of interest, which is a little bit spooky, by the way.”

Dr Abdulrahman Alarifi, General Manager of Systems Engineering and Artificial Intelligence at TAHAKOM, recently spoke at the SecurMiddleEast event and acknowledged the power of data. He said: “The reason that we are looking for artificial intelligence is that we are in the era of a lot of data. It is collected from different sources from social media, sensors, cameras, or from audio. Different kinds of sensors that can collect huge amounts of data. “And this huge amount of data, you have to deal with it. And you have to process it. Also, we are in an era where computational power is much cheaper than before. And given that you have access to huge amounts of data with very good and powerful computational power, a lot of applications can be unlocked.”

How is AI used currently in security?

AI-powered security systems can now identify faces, recognise motion, and detect potential threats. AI-based computer vision technologies are also being used for surveillance and access control systems, as well as for automated facial recognition systems. By leveraging deep learning algorithms, these systems can detect patterns and quickly identify potential security threats. The speed at which they can do all this is incomparable to even the most proficient security professional.AI is also used in cybersecurity applications. By analysing millions of events and logs generated by the various components of an IT system, AI-driven security tools can detect anomalies and potentially malicious behaviour, allowing organisations to react quickly and mitigate risks. In addition, AI technologies are now used to automate the assessment and response to security incidents. AI-driven security platforms can analyse vast amounts of data from multiple sources, detect suspicious activities, and trigger appropriate responses based on predefined rules and parameters.

The Challenges

Deploying AI to security solutions is not a straightforward task and security professionals must recognise that not all solutions out there are equal. One of the biggest challenges facing the use of AI insecurity is finding great software and great people with the ability to use it. Burns said: “Let’s just start with the fact that you need great software, on a great platform interoperable with other software and hardware elements of a project. As always – and it’s not trivial and never gets old – you need to understand the needs and use cases of the client. “You then have to educate – especially that AI is not there to replace humans entirely, but to make humans more efficient in seeing and deciding on the most important judgements in an increasing welter of data points.” So, are we nearing the point where the task of security is offloaded to AI-competent machines? Burns believes not. He said: “As I said earlier, I hope not for all our sakes. A fully functioning neural network in a machine-learning environment is a little scary.“ There is a point where the creator and programmer stand outside the neural network’s ability to provide responses that a machine might make, but not a human seeing the same situation. We’re talking potential life and death situations, not just speeding tickets from traffic enforcement.

AI is ready to shake up the industry

What we are likely to see in the coming years is the positive impact AI can have on IT and security teams. The technology will be able to improve on real-time monitoring, freeing up personnel to focus on data that indicates an issue, while the AI continues with its monitoring so nothing is missed. We may see security teams slim down, as AI applications take on their role, we’ll certainly see budgets slashed thanks to this automation as well as a reduction in threat response times. Resources and budgets can be far better utilised, plus it’s likely artificial intelligence will open the door to new opportunities for roles and jobs in the sector instead.

Leading the way

At SecurMiddleEast, Khalaf pointed to how well the technology is being used already. “There’s more to AI than just simple computer vision and algorithms,” he said. “For example: predictive policing. This is an evolving area where the police can predict crime in the future, and this is happening now.” Dubai is one city that has invested heavily in the technology. In line with the UAE government’s Strategy for Artificial Intelligence (launched in 2017), the city approved its own Strategic Plan for Artificial Intelligence (2018-2021). The aim was to make Dubai the most secure city in the world, powered by smart services. By 2030 the city hopes that robots will form a quarter of its police force. The mega project Oyoon connects all of the CCTV cameras in the city to a single centralised AI-enabled backbone. First announced back in 2018, it uses AI and data analysis to prevent crimes and marked Dubai and the wider Gulf region as key players in AI and data technologies. The Government AI Readiness Index 2022 identified the USA as a world leader for AI readiness with a score of 85.72. The index uses three pillars when producing the ranking: government, technology sector, and data and infrastructure. Several Middle Eastern countries were out performing the global average index of44.61, including UAE (68.54), Qatar (62.37),Saudi Arabia (61.96), and Oman (57.83). All were early developers of AI strategies. Cross-border collaboration was noted as an untapped mechanism for accelerating work on common solutions for the MENA region, which could help drive AI readiness in the near future.

Look to the future

As the technology matures, we’re seeing next-generation solutions such as automated malware analysis, malware classification, and malware protection. AI is also making waves in access control, identity management, and predictive analytics. This tech-driven knowledge can be used by security teams to better manage and monitor patterns, understand user behaviour, and be more proactive in responding to emerging threats. The rise of artificial intelligence in the security market is ushering in a new era of smarter, more efficient, and highly accurate security operations. According to Deloitte Insight’s Urban Future with a Purpose report: “Machine learning and big data analysis make it possible to navigate through huge amounts of data on crime and terrorism, to identify patterns, correlations and trends. When the right relationships are in place, technology is the layer that supports law enforcement agencies to better deliver their job and trigger behaviour change. The ultimate goal is to create agile security systems that can detect crime, terrorism networks and suspicious activity, and even contribute to the effectiveness of justice systems.”

Knowing the limitations

But the report also cautions: “Experts say it is almost impossible to design broadly adopted ethical AI systems, because of the enormous complexity of the diverse contexts they need to encompass. Any advances in AI for surveillance and predictive policing need to be accompanied by discussions about ethical and regulatory issues. Even though the value proposition of these technologies might seem attractive from a use case perspective, liberties and civil rights need to be protected by proper privacy and human rights regulations.”

The most important thing for organisations to be aware of is that AI technology requires vast amounts of data to do its job effectively. And to ensure its accuracy, the data used to hone AI-powered security applications must be complete and unbiased. Any AI application can only be as good as the data it is trained on. There is a risk that poor data can lead to wrong decisions being made or security lapses. We also have to consider that it would be just as easy for AI to be used against organisations and put into play for nefarious reasons. While organisations can leverage technology to enhance security, there will always be those who utilise it for immoral means. As the technology grow seven more powerful we must remain alert to its potential for misuse. There is also the ongoing issue of privacy concerns and the ethical implications of AI-driven decision-making. Solution providers must ensure that products are designed with privacy at their heart, and that they are regularly tested and monitored to maintain accuracy and prevent false positives. In Dubai, the police force adopted the AI Ethics framework that was developed by the Smart Dubai initiative. The framework focuses on four principles to help address concerns about AI: ethics, security, humanity, and inclusiveness. By adopting it, Dubai Police are helping to ensure the AI systems they use are fair, understandable and transparent.

AI is here to stay

Despite these challenges, it’s clear that AI is here to stay and making an impact on the security industry. Security teams must embrace this new technology to remain competitive and keep up with the evolving security landscape. Figueiredo said: “You keep finding new ways to solve problems and they keep getting more complex. So I see for the foreseeable future, this technology becoming more and more mature but I will not say that it is going to be 100%.We get very close. But I would not forecast it to be 100%.”Figueiredo also recognises that the Middle East is forging ahead with its AI ambitions: “In the Middle East, they are a fast adopter. Here is a very good sandbox for us, they’re brave. They want to adopt the technology. When I go back home to the West it’s kind of going back to the old days. Here is the future. “As other regions adopt, they’ll get more mature and they’ll understand the benefits and I believe that this will spread like a weed across the globe, it is inevitable.” Within a short time frame, we can expect to see AI become an integral part of security protocols. With this in mind organisations must be aware that while AI technology is powering forwards at an incredible pace, regulation of the technology is running a few years behind. As the Government AI Readiness Index 2022report states: “We need governments to rapidly roll out responsive regulatory regimes. The hugely significant advances in AI increase the risk of the technologies being harnessed by bad actors or creating services that society is not ready to deal with. Care needs to be taken to make sure that AI systems don’t just entrench old inequalities or disenfranchise people.” So as we look to the future, it’s time to embrace the potential that artificial intelligence can unlock.