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Navigating the 'AI Gold Rush' - GenAI and the State of Cybersecurity

By Alex Passett

According to Patrick Coughlin, Senior Vice President of Global Technical Sales at Splunk – a Cisco company established in 2003 with a mission to solve disruptive problems in complex digital infrastructures – we are very much in the thick of an “AI gold rush.”

However, we’re well aware of the fact that it isn’t just the good guys on the trail of new-age gold.

“Both bad actors and security professionals alike are trying to seize all of AI’s advantages,” Coughlin explained. “The introduction of GenAI creates new opportunities for organizations to streamline processes, increase productivity and limit staff burnout. Unfortunately, GenAI also presents unprecedented advantages for threat agents scouring for new attack vectors. To traverse this modern landscape, defenders must outpace bad actors in the race to harness and securely deploy the power of GenAI.”

This is why – to gain a better understanding of what cybersecurity defenders are facing – Splunk released its “State of Security 2024: The Race to Harness AI” report as part of a collab with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG).

Why Splunk spearheaded this is also in the company’s name; Splunk’s experts support organizations through the exploration of their data, similar to how spelunkers explore cavern systems. (Hence, “Splunk.”) Since its inception, Splunk has patented more than 1,100 resilient solutions to help teams get the full scope of their data in order to keep mission-critical systems as secure and reliable as possible.

Thus, this Splunk report is an extension of that.

According to Splunk’s and ESG’s report, organizations have “heavily adopted GenAI-powered tools,” and teams adopting advanced AI-inclusive approaches are becoming more well-positioned to “significantly expand budgets and resources as they embrace responsible GenAI.” However, despite widespread adoption, many organizations “still lack a clear GenAI policy, or a full grasp on the tech’s broader implications” – that’s where cybersecurity leaders, as Splunk defines, come in.

  • A whopping 93% of surveyed security leaders affirmed that GenAI was in use across their respective organizations; 91% reported using GenAI specifically for cybersecurity-based operations.
  • That said, 34% of these executives said that they “don’t have a comprehensive GenAI policy place,” and a higher 65% admitted to not full understanding its full implications.
  • Another interesting tidbit, one of a slight see-saw nature: While 45% of respondents believe GenAI will sadly be a “net win” for threat actors, 43% stated that GenAI will give cyber defenders even more of an edge in the ongoing fight.

A bit of a give-and-take situation, as it were. But how insightful are these stats from Splunk, exactly?

To a pretty great degree, we believe. I can’t tell you how many reports our editorial team pores over, the stats citing how shaky general takes on GenAI may be; increased efficiencies and all, many past studies have painted a less-confident enterprise-level picture.

But even in the face of security woes, defenders’ opinions on GenAI appear to be improving.

Will this stick? Will GenAI truly benefit in the long term through expedited entry-level talent discovery? Through “smarter” cybersecurity, albeit alongside rapidly changing regulations and compliance mandates? Will organizations become more risk-averse as time goes on? Will data-driven vigilance warrant sizeable budget shifts in the years to come, paving the way for further implementations of GenAI?

Yes, likely. (With caveats along the way, as we collectively continue to learn.)

But as folks often say, time will tell.

The full report can be found here.

Edited by Greg Tavarez
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