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Palo Alto Networks urges proactive approach to cybersecurity in era of AI

Ian Lim discusses double-edged nature of AI tools, changing digital landscape at Taiwan Ignite 2023

Palo Alto Networks Regional Chief Security Officer Ian Lim speaking in Taipei, Nov. 16. (Palo Alto Networks photo)

Palo Alto Networks Regional Chief Security Officer Ian Lim speaking in Taipei, Nov. 16. (Palo Alto Networks photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Palo Alto Networks, a California-based cybersecurity firm with offices in Taiwan, hosted one of its annual cybersecurity conferences on Thursday (Nov. 16) at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Taipei.

The event, titled Taiwan Ignite 2023, was focused on the impact of AI and related developments in the field of cybersecurity. Palo Alto Networks Regional Chief Security Officer Ian Lim gave a press conference and discussed some current AI-based cybersecurity response measures.

In the last few years, AI-driven developments have arrived at an unrelenting pace within the tech world. This has created a completely new paradigm for the cybersecurity industry, said Lim.

“Ten years ago, everyone was excited about cloud services and the increased digital mobility they offered. We are still in the thick of the cloud-based computing era, but AI has arrived very suddenly,” said Lim.

AI-driven technologies present a double-edged sword for the cybersecurity industry. On the one hand, Lim said the computing power of precision AI models has facilitated a drastic reduction in the amount of time and manpower required to assess and respond to cyber threats.

On the other hand, with AI-driven tools at their disposal, the capabilities of hackers and other cybercriminals are also advancing at a relentless pace. Palo Alto Networks estimated that the total market value of assets compromised by cybercriminals in 2022 was approximately US$8 trillion dollars, making cybercrime perhaps the most lucrative industry in the world.

With such high stakes, large corporations can not be caught flat-footed at the dawn of a new era in cybersecurity. Lim cautioned, “AI is not just a trend, but a tool that will fundamentally alter human society, comparable to the invention of the mobile phone or the internet.”

Despite the breakneck pace of AI development, Palo Alto Networks has invested in critical technologies that they expect will shape the future of cybersecurity threat responses. “Currently, Palo Alto Networks is ahead of the game by just a few years,” said Lim.

In the current landscape, the cybersecurity industry is going through a “consolidation phase” as firms must rapidly come to grips with the new kinds of cyber threats that will confront them in the new era of AI-driven applications.

Preparing for the next generation of online threats is especially important for a country like Taiwan, which ranked 12th globally for the highest number of ransomware attacks in 2022, and 3rd in the Asia Pacific region. Fortunately, Taiwan is very attuned to current tech trends, with 92% of Taiwanese organizations surveyed making plans to improve automated online security measures in the coming year, per Palo Alto Networks.

To address online threat actors, and make the most of AI tools that are increasingly becoming available to companies, Ian Lim proposed a concept that he calls “Shift Right.”

Until recently, cybersecurity firms and applications focused most of their energy on detecting breaches after they occur. Given the tools at their disposal, as well as those utilized by threat actors, this reactive approach was suitable.

However, the introduction of AI-driven tools is changing the landscape. With automation and machine learning substantially reducing the time and labor necessary for detection, assessment, and response, cyber security engineers have a much greater ability to focus on proactive measures to root out potential threats to a server.

The concept of “Shifting Right” proposed by Lin is essentially an exhortation to companies and cybersecurity firms to focus on proactive threat mitigation rather than reactive threat response to achieve what Lim calls “cyber resilience.”

“The number one enemy of security is complexity,” warned Lim. With over 3,500 vendors of cybersecurity services on the market, a company with too many tools or applications has a higher likelihood of being targeted and exploited by hackers.

In light of these risks, Palo Alto Networks is adopting a trend toward standardizing and systematizing the online architecture of its own servers and those of its clients. By integrating as many aspects of where and how online transactions occur under a single umbrella, monitored at all times by the most cutting-edge tools available to a security operations center, Palo Alto Networks strives to provide clients with the most secure online operating space available in the modern age.