Execs Turn to AI and Machine Learning for Security
June 22, 2017

Carl Herberger
Radware

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Executives in the US and Europe now place broad trust in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning systems, designed to protect organizations from more dynamic pernicious cyber threats, according to Radware's 2017 Executive Application & Network Security Survey.

This year’s research revealed important global trends as well as intriguing perceptions and nuances among US and European executives. Among the findings of the 2017 executive survey:

Adoption of AI/Machine Learning

This year’s executive survey supports the assertion that security automation has now reached an inflection point — with about four in five (81 percent) of the executives reported having already or recently implemented more reliance on automated solutions. Over half (57 percent) of executives report trusting automated systems as much or more than humans to protect their organizations. Two in five (38 percent) executives indicated that within two years, automated security systems would be the primary resource for managing cyber security.

“Businesses have to fight fire with fire,” said Carl Herberger, VP of Security Solutions at Radware. “Today’s threat actors continue to build highly automated and adaptive tools, like the Marai and Hajime botnets. These attacks can wreak catastrophic damage to a network. Executives that aren’t yet fighting these new dynamic threats with continuously adaptive attack detection and mitigation capabilities are putting their organization at risk.”

Security is a Board-Level Concern

A majority of respondents (85 percent) said that security threats are a CEO- or board-level concern in their company. Among all respondents, 94 percent told us that security is an extremely or very important priority. About three in five (62 percent) rate it “extremely important,” marking a slight increase from last year, when just 53 percent did so.

Security is a Main Driver for Digital Transformation

This year’s survey respondents affirmed that their organizations are actively integrating digital technologies — and that cyber security is the number-one driver of their digital transformation. Nearly half of all executives (47 percent) cited improving information security as a major goal of their digital transformation. What’s more, for three-quarters of organizations, cyber-security considerations were critical in shaping decisions to transform aspects of the business to digital.

The Next Likely Targets

Executives believe that the biggest security threats in the next three to five years are network infrastructure (27 percent) followed by Internet of Things (IoT) (22 percent) devices and Energy/Power Infrastructure (21 percent).

Executives’ Biggest Concern During a Cyberattack? Their Customers

Chief among executives’ worries about cyber-attacks is a negative customer experience, which 39 percent of executives ranked as the top impact to their business from a security threat. Brand reputation loss (36 percent) was close behind, followed by operational and customer loss (both 29 percent) and revenue loss (34 percent).

“Executives are scrutinizing the gaps in their security like never before, taking a more active approach to defending their customer experience and avoiding the brand damage that hackers can cause,” said Anna Convery-Pelletier, CMO at Radware. “Today’s educated consumer is keenly aware of security — as customer experience is now closely tied with reputation management and data protection. Consumers therefore use these critical parameters as the basis for their decision to do business with a company.”

Executives Do Not Believe Their Governments Do Enough to Protect Consumer Privacy

Executives around the world agree that government plays a role in compromising digital security. Two-thirds of executives (67 percent) agree that current laws and legislation related to information security compromise individual privacy, and 79 percent of executives feel their government should do more to protect personal information.

European Executives Are More Likely to Hire Ex-Hackers than Their US Counterparts

In Europe, 58 percent said they were very or extremely likely to do so, while just 27 percent of US executives said the same. One-quarter of U.S. executives said their company was not very likely to hire former hackers, and 36% said their organization was somewhat likely to do so.

Methodology: On behalf of Radware, Merrill Research surveyed 200 executives — 100 in the US and 100 in Europe in April 2017. To participate in the 2017 Executive Application & Network Security respondents were required to be at company with at least $250 million (or equivalent) in revenue and hold a title of senior vice president level or higher. By design, the survey required at least half respondents to be C-level executives, though this year’s research attracted far more top-ranking corporate leaders. About half of the companies in the survey have 1,000 to 9,999 employees, averaging about 4,600. US respondents included a few more companies with less than 1,000 employees, but no other significant differences in terms of number of employees.

Carl Herberger is VP of Security at Radware
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