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Placing AI into firmware - the ultimate layer of protection and efficiency

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Cybersecurity (opens in new tab) risks are continuously increasing in frequency, sophistication and cost – in fact, IBM reports the average cost of a data breach has risen to over £3 million. 

About the author

Camellia Chan CEO and Founder of X-PHY (opens in new tab), a Flexxon brand.

Fortunately, businesses are slowly beginning to see the light. Many organizations (77%) now possess C-level executives that consider cybersecurity a high priority and spending is increasing, with UK cybersecurity providers seeing revenues grow by 14%. However, there remains a large gap in the cybersecurity tech stack: protection at the firmware level. This leaves many, if not all, vulnerable.

Cybersecurity in the hybrid working era 

As companies seek to establish a functional hybrid working model, they need to prioritize finding viable solutions to the risks that come with doing so, as not to compromise themselves. Hybrid working (opens in new tab) can present an array of cybersecurity challenges due to public networks being vulnerable, the dependence on employees to take responsibility and the need for a remote incident response plan, to name but a few! Without all employees (opens in new tab) working from one premise, there is undoubtedly more risk of a successful cybersecurity breach. Sourcing effective solutions will ensure companies are ahead of the game and can fulfill the core mission of their business.

That being said, with companies starting to explore emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to increase resilience, productivity (opens in new tab), growth and innovation – as outlined the UK government’s National AI strategy –  is there a place for these technologies in a business’ cybersecurity strategy? Put simply, yes there is. AI cybersecurity solutions, especially when embedded at the firmware level, could supersede the pitfalls in current cybersecurity strategies that aren’t robust enough for the hybrid working model.

What is AI-secure SSD? 

Increasingly, companies are turning to solid-state drives (SSD) (opens in new tab) that have AI embedded within. Equipped with an AI co-processor and special firmware that monitors threats in real time, the technology is designed to stop all cybersecurity threats, including the ever-prevalent ransomware (opens in new tab). It can even detect zero-day attacks just by looking at data access patterns, with 100% accuracy. Security is placed closest to the precious data, so it’s able to react at a record speed without compromising computer performance. As such, AI-embedded SSD technology is set to close the cybersecurity protection gap.

AI-embedded SSD can enhance cybersecurity protection as it uses a low-level programming code, which is extremely concise and elevates protection. At the low level, the AI-augmented SSD applies and converts sophisticated algorithms to monitor variances in direct contact with the firmware device. As low-level programming code is interlinked with the architecture and firmware of a particular device, protection is more robust.

Why do we need AI-secure SSD? 

As humans, it’s obvious we are unable to detect new threats in real time, but with the assistance of AI technology, it’s possible to detect zero-day attacks as they happen. This is particularly important in the current climate as there are so many novel threats as hackers continue to become more sophisticated. Just last month, there were reports that Vodafone suffered a data breach without even knowing it. Naturally, as threats become more advanced, so must cybersecurity protection measures. When there is a weakness in cybersecurity protection, malicious attackers can gain access and threaten the security of the entire system.

Similarly, as with defense strategies of any nature, there needs to be a strong last line of defense. The solid-state drive (SSD) is where a great deal of data is stored and therefore, needs to be prioritized when it comes to a cybersecurity protection strategy. When AI technology is incorporated in close proximity to precious data (i.e. at the firmware level), it thwarts any attempts to exfiltrate data just at the point where most would consider the attack successful. It also leaves no room for human error, further strengthening the defense strategy as a whole.

What threats can AI-secure SSD protect against? 

Firmware-based security innovation is necessary to protect individuals and organizations from a number of threats, including: malware (opens in new tab), ransomware, known and unknown viruses, software, hardware and physical attacks. A further benefit to this type of cyber technology is that it can protect against issues that come with physical theft of a device.

An AI-secure SSD can notice irregularities in data access patterns which enables it to notice an unwanted intruder, and destroy the data to ensure no confidential information is leaked. The principle of zero-trust technology is that it grants access and authority according to the real time situation.

Prioritizing protection at the firmware level 

Given the rise in successful and expensive data breaches, it is important to address this ‘gap’ in typical cybersecurity systems. In order for data to be truly secure, there needs to be a last line of protection in place to protect users and businesses against all types of threats.

Threats will undoubtedly continue to emerge in novel and unexpected ways. That’s why businesses must capitalize on technological advancements such as AI, that can revolutionize the function of the SSD.

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Camellia Chan CEO and Founder of X-PHY, a Flexxon brand.