AI: Embracing Innovation Whilst Preparing for Risk

According to the 2024 Global Cyber Security Report by Hays, 89% of cyber security leaders have expressed concern about the potential risks posed by AI

UK-based recruitment company Hays found that, whilst 98% of leaders believe AI will be useful for organisations in bolstering their cybersecurity teams, only 57% are planning to upskill their workforces for AI.

As AI continues to evolve, the opportunities to harness the technology within a business context are plenty. Yet, in order to revolutionise the workforce, companies will benefit from committing to fully understanding the technology in order to harness it safely and avoid cybersecurity risks.

This is particularly crucial given the rise of cyberattacks, which are currently set to cost the world US$9.5tn in 2024 alone. Recent reports suggest that, as AI becomes increasingly sophisticated and accessible to threat actors, the rate of cyberattacks and scams increases.

A need for speed: Boosting workplace efficiencies

AI is beginning to help organisations boost the productivity of its employees within the world of work. Currently, it is working to eliminate administrative tasks and speed up the overall work process. 

Specifically, within cybersecurity, its adoption is expected to revolutionise security practices, which range from threat detection to incident response. 

When Hays asked its survey respondents who stands to gain the most from the AI evolution, 20% of respondents pointed to cyber adversaries leveraging the technology for malicious purposes. This was a sharp contrast to 14% identifying organisations as primary beneficiaries, with 63% believing that both organisations and adversaries will benefit equally.

Despite heavily publicised anxieties over the impact of AI and automation on human workforces, nearly half (44%) of those surveyed do not anticipate automation leading to job losses. Only 36% predict such an outcome by 2026, with 42% reporting they are seeking to increase headcount over the next year. 

This positive outlook suggests that enterprise understanding of the potential of AI is growing and can work to support human efforts, rather than replace them. As AI becomes more integrated into security operations, Hays highlights a greater need for strategic workforce planning.

Adopting AI requires readiness

Despite the level of concern over the possible risks of AI technology, Hays reveals that only 57% of leaders plan to train their cybersecurity workforces on AI tools within the next year.

Significantly, one-quarter (25%) of leaders do not plan to upskill at all.

This disparity highlights the enterprise struggle of balancing technological adoption with workforce readiness. As this challenge continues, employees could be unable to harness the power of new tools and as a result, compromise their ability to combat and control cybersecurity threats or data breaches.

According to Hays, 73% of organisations invest 5% or less of their cybersecurity budget into developing talent. Meanwhile, almost twice as many respondents (42%) believe any further investment should be dedicated to increasing cyber headcount, rather than into training resources. 

Hays suggests that wanting to hire new talent, rather than upskilling existing talent, is not a long-term solution. It cites that the ongoing skills gap across the technology industry does not currently have enough talent, which could result in additional vulnerabilities that can be exploited by threat actors.

“With the prevalence of cyberattacks growing exponentially, the report highlights the pivotal role of AI in shaping the future of cyber security,” says James Milligan, Global Head of Technology at Hays. “Organisations must strike a balance between embracing AI’s potential and ensuring their workforce is adequately prepared to deal with the emerging threat landscape.”

He adds: “Additionally, organisations need to not only embrace emerging technologies and ensure teams are educated on benefits and pitfalls, but also to invest in them. It’s important to adapt quickly to a world in which AI solutions are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and at a rate we haven’t previously witnessed while the talent pool for AI skills is limited.

“The research demonstrates that respondents strongly believe that AI can support their team’s cyber capabilities. These tools must be incorporated into the security workforce’s training and development.”

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