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What Recent BlackHat USA Keynotes Can Tell Us About the Future of Security

This guest blog was contributed by Michael Cocanower, founder and CEO of AdviserCyber, a cybersecurity company specifically designed to assist Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs).

Michael Cocanower, founder and CEO of AdviserCyber

Against the backdrop of Las Vegas, cybersecurity experts and enthusiasts gathered in August 2023 for Black Hat USA 2023. As a seasoned cybersecurity expert myself, I was thrilled to be in attendance. This year's most riveting topic was artificial intelligence, and the two keynotes from Kemba Walden and Maria Markstedter provided a stimulating discussion of the future of cybersecurity.


Guardians of the AI Era: Navigating the Cybersecurity Landscape of Tomorrow


Maria and Azeria Labs provided a fantastic keynote outlining the potential risks of integrating AI into our cybersecurity processes. Of course, the use-cases of autonomous AI were the scariest prospect that came out of the keynote. Having an AI “worker” making software or tool decisions for me without instruction brings inherent risk to any industry deciding to utilize that capability. Is AI ensuring it’s finding the best tools when searching the Web for what it needs? How do we know our AI didn’t just install malware into your system in the process of solving a problem or attempting to “protect” you from some cyber threat?

My industry — financial services and wealth management — as well as any other regulated industry will inherently have problems trying to keep up regulation and guidance with the development of this technology. Using AI, especially Language Learning Models as they are built now, comes with inherent risk if you decide to feed any data into their algorithms. Cybersecurity officers will most likely have to handle how to meet AI regulatory requirements on their own.

In the wake of Maria's keynote, and while the allure of AI beckons, the imperative remains to tread cautiously, forging a path that harnesses its potential while preserving the sanctity of critical data—a commitment that resonated profoundly at this year’s conference.


Acting National Cyber Director Kemba Walden Discusses the National Cybersecurity Strategy and Workforce Efforts


Kemba’s keynote clearly illustrated what the cybersecurity community has known for some time that business leaders refuse to accept: there must be a transition beyond simple ‘compliance’ towards the investment in the right cybersecurity tools and skilled human resources. In wealth management sectors — and frankly, across the business world — these decisions are currently being made by leaders that do not have a deep cybersecurity understanding especially as it relates to the level of risk they are facing. I am hopeful we will see an increased turn to the cybersecurity industry and the professionals therein to help make informed decisions rooted in risk mitigation.


AI will be the push towards this transition we so desperately need. Just like the introduction of ATMs forcing bank tellers to develop higher skill sets, cybersecurity professionals will need to harness the power of AI to diminish cyber risk.


Conclusion

All the talk at Black Hat USA 2023 was a symphony of caution and optimism, particularly of the collective journey towards cybersecurity excellence in an AI-fueled era. All-in-all, I could not have asked for a better way for the security community to begin getting a handle on how to handle the rise in AI in our world. ###

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