Data security in the age of artificial intelligence

Sheikh Sadiq, partner at ALT Technology, discusses the changing face of data protection as technology continues to evolve at pace



Sponsored: Machine learning, deep learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) combined with increasing adoption of robotics and automation could pose a serious challenge to corporate data security, a leading industry expert and a US-based consultant has warned.

Sheikh Sadiq, partner at the UAE-based ALT Tech – a leading IT Consultancy and provider of hardware and software solutions to critical infrastructure developments, corporates and developers, argues that the biggest challenge the industry faces today is the lack of knowledge among both individuals and organisations about how to protect their data.

“Even as security analysts and the information security industry is working towards using AI and machine learning to secure data and identify potential risks, the hackers could be training to use the same technology to exploit vulnerabilities,” says Sadiq who also heads the Chicago-based ALIS Technology.

Elaborating on the challenges in data security, Sadiq emphasises that security threats could arise from increasing adoption of robotics, AI and automation and a fast-paced integration of IoT devices.

“We could witness more instances of complex ransomware and intelligent AI-based phishing for data hacking. Security, financial and even technology and social media businesses should be aware of the emerging threat scenario and take adequate measures for protection,” he says.

Most prominent among the main concerns, he notes, is an increase in targeted ransomware attacks to the computers in the region.

“We are seeing an increase in adoption of cloud servers without proper firewalls and network protection. As the world becomes more connected, hackers find ways to lure internet users to give them access to their data.”

Businesses, according to him, consider financial burden over data protection: They don’t realise data breaches can be expensive and devastating to businesses of any size. Also, business do not invest in educating their staff to protect sensitive data.”

Unfortunately, organisations, he argues, do not have proper security strategies in place.

“Insiders are mostly responsible for most data breaches either unknowingly or on purpose,” he explains.

The data security strategy of any organisation must involve development of mitigation plan designed to manage, eliminate or reduce risk. Organisations should be able to acknowledge the existence of risk, find ways to eliminate or reduce them and plan to minimise their impact.

Proper planning, implementation of a secure network and educating users are all key factors that are responsible for data security.

“Data security is still not a must for most business regardless of their size. Most businesses do not have data security officers or privacy officers,” he says adding that an organisation’s security strategy must be based on zero-trust, totally data-centric, visibility-driven policies and offer rapid response to breach.

Most importantly, it is critical to identify the right stakeholder to manage risk: “Choosing the right individual or firm to assist you  in building secure and efficient network infrastructure is taking the first right step towards mitigating risk.”   

Sadiq says his company has set up secure networks all over the US since 2000 and in the UAE since 2015.

“We understand the risk the worldwide web poses to your network. We start with proper planning, implementation of a secure network and educating users as these are all key factors that are responsible for data security.”

Obtaining ISO data security certification increases the trust of customers with regard to how healthcare providers, financial institution or law firms handle data.

The firm also recommends that organisations perform quarterly security audits to ensure data integrity.

“Protecting data is a mammoth task. We help organisations protect their data and in case of data security breaches, we help them identify what data was compromised,” he adds.

To set up hardware and software security audits, ALT Tech can be contacted at secureme@alttechdubai.com