Friend or Foe? Considering AI’s Role in your Business

How does your business feel about artificial intelligence (AI)? Is it a friend, foe, or both, particularly when it comes to cybersecurity? A recent Australian conference heard SMEs need to embrace AI or be left behind.

Workday’s Global Study of AI in business found that nine out of 10 businesses they surveyed used this technology to manage people, finances, or both. But this technology is evolving quickly, creating uncertainty about their impacts and possible risks.

Evolving AI and generative AI

AI are computer-powered systems that can reason, generalise, problem-solve, plan, and learn from experience. They can generate predictions based on algorithms humans have developed, according to the Federal Department of Industry, Sciences and Resources. Those predictions take the form of outputs, such as content, forecasts, decisions, or recommendations.

Meanwhile, generative AI models, such as ChatGPT, Google’s Bard, and DALL·E 2, create novel content including text, images, audio, and code based on prompts.

According to KPMG, generative AI offers speed, efficiency, and the capacity to automate tasks for business transformation. It says, this type of AI can be used for:

  • Information technology
  • Human resources
  • Operations
  • Finance
  • Audit
  • Legal
  • Marketing.

For example, AI is handy for developing and testing code, drafting content, and summarising complex information. WIRED magazine suggests using AI for brainstorming, changing your writing tone, code, and even finding keyboard shortcuts or spreadsheet formulas. AI can boost business productivity by 40%, says the TechJury website.

However, caution is needed. IT company, Workday, says ethical and data security concerns mean most business leaders say humans should be involved when AI makes significant decisions. AI models can create issues, such as misleading or false outputs, too.

How AI can help protect businesses against threats

It’s not all doom and gloom though. AI is useful for cybersecurity, including to:

  • Battle bots
  • Handle lots of data
  • Improve vulnerability management
  • Boost security overall
  • Minimise process duplication
  • Identify unknown threats
  • Speed up time needed to detect and respond to threats
  • Reduce, and possibly eliminate, time-consuming tasks
  • Secure authentication
  • Over time, learn more.

Looking beyond your business to learn how to navigate the world of AI is key. Collaborating across your industry to share best practices can help raise ethical standards collectively.

The CSIRO has a handy resource to get you started. It’s vetted this directory of 100-plus Australian businesses and organisations helping businesses harness AI. As well, the Australian government has created a framework of eight principles to guide businesses and organisations on ethical AI use. Here’s a guide to applying them to your operations.

How attackers could use AI to their benefit

However, there’s a flip side to AI and businesses. AI hands savvy attackers the tools to harm including to:

  • Create deepfakes that can influence democracy, carry out fraud or other deceit
  • Generate misinformation or disinformation
  • Write malware code
  • Automate and personalise interactions online and offline with people through chatbots and spear phishing emails
  • Reduce the manual effort needed to unleash cyberattacks
  • Engage in social engineering to manipulate humans’ trust and emotions
  • Mimic human behaviour to copy authentication processes, guess credentials
  • Trick biometric identification systems.

AI continues to evolve, so this list isn’t exhaustive. Be sure to educate your staff about this technology and monitor how cyber attacks may use it to infiltrate your defences. Common sense and fact-checking using multiple sources are useful approaches, too. Invest in IT expertise to keep abreast of AI innovations – good and bad. Keep cyber security in sharp focus of your risk management strategy.

Review coverage as cyber threats evolve

Cyber threats and opportunities will continue to evolve. Ensure your insurance coverage is tailored to your current business circumstances. Let us, as your broker, help you review and update your cover, including one specifically for cyber incidents.

Cyber insurance is cover is for a diverse range of risks about IT infrastructure as well as cyber-related risks, including:

  • First-party cover, where your business experiences a cyber breach and suffers financial losses
  • Third-party cover for losses that others suffer due to a cyber breach in your business.

Even if you’re a micro business, employing four or fewer people, or a sole trader, there are customised cyber insurance for your needs and industry. We can guide you on how to manage risk for cyber security in the evolving AI era.