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Technology has advanced considerably in recent years. Multiple global challenges have led to incredible breakthroughs in areas such as cloud computing, network security, and mobile interaction.

Whether we’re talking about machine learning or neural networks, artificial intelligence (AI) is behind many of these digital developments, and it’s changing the realm of cyber security faster than anyone could have imagined.

AI can analyse a staggering amount of data in a fraction of the time that it would take for any human to do the same. It can identify threats and recognize patterns of risky behaviour, and its strengths are already being used to great effect in the six areas of online security that we’ve listed below.

1. Research analysis

Cybersecurity firms like Norton and Kaspersky receive millions of terabytes of user behaviour data on a daily basis. This data is trawled by AI to protect your personal information, not only in the present but in the future too.

Real-time protection is only possible through precise analysis. Can you imagine going through every internet user’s browsing habits? It would take a ridiculous amount of time, and AI saves us from going through such an intimidating mountain of information.

Without machine learning algorithms, the process of drawing actionable conclusions from such an immense amount of data would take up far too much time. In other words, there would be greater opportunities for cybercriminals to find and abuse vulnerabilities in a user’s security systems.

2. Threat detection

AI has the ability to detect threats ahead of time. It can detect and reveal vulnerabilities before you know they exist, and the combination of accelerated response time and precise analysis is a potent counter to the diverse range of threats that can be found online.

Have you ever noticed how your email accounts can filter spam automatically nowadays? This is a basic example of machine learning in action. Essentially, a data processing algorithm is all that stands between you and a flooded inbox.

Whether it’s data phishing, disguised spam, or just brute-force hacking, AI programs can perceive these threats and act accordingly. More importantly, they can do so within a critical time window and execute protective measures in the blink of an eye.

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3. Privacy protection

Keeping your personal information safe and secure is a chief priority for online safety. Luckily, AI programs can manage this critical task with precise efficiency, and they require little to no input from the end user.

As a basic example, your antivirus uses AI to protect all your devices, whether it’s your smartphone, laptop, desktop computer, or any other device with online connectivity. No matter what you do online, an AI is behind the scenes protecting your privacy.

It’s worth mentioning that free protection software isn’t as effective as a paid product, not by a long shot. Proper protection has value, and that value comes with a price tag attached.

4. Information management

Several global companies, such as Microsoft, Amazon, and LinkedIn, have fallen victim to data breaches. These breaches all have one thing in common – a lack of sufficient data protection measures.

Thankfully, businesses and developers managed to adapt to these threats timeously, and large-scale subterfuge like data phishing and DDOS attacks are far less common than they used to be.

The proliferation of affordable AI systems has benefited all kinds of industries, no matter how big or small they may be. What’s more, they increase the demand for skilled labour, which drives growth in other sectors such as education and IT.

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5. Financial security

Online banking wouldn’t be possible without AI. How many digital transactions are completed every second of every day? How many people would you need to manage and verify all of those transactions?

The simplest answer is that human resources can’t compete with their digital counterparts. The most powerful supercomputers can process over a hundred petaflops of data at once, while the human brain can only handle a few hundred bits at any given time.

AI automates so much of the transaction process that there’s barely any need for human input. In fact, all aspects of digital financial systems require AI in one form or another, whether it’s data pipeline integrity, secure authentication, or even natural language processing.

6. Predictive models

The computational proficiency of advanced AI systems can go as far as predicting the future. Features like neural network pattern recognition allow synthetic ‘brains’ to foresee the most likely outcome of a particular event.

Let’s say you click on an unknown link, and your browser ends up on a dubious website. Chances are, an AI has already noticed that other internet users have gone through the same experience and ended up with negative consequences, so it will warn you by placing an admin-restricted verification page prior to entry.

This example and the others we’ve showcased prove how versatile AI can be in the fight against cybercrime. Our online security is reliant on these programs for a multitude of processes, and exploration of our digital world would be perilous without it.

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