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Human nature: empowering employees through AI

Human nature: empowering employees through AI
(Image credit: Image Credit: Wichy / Shutterstock)

It may still be true that a business is only as strong as its employees. But, given our ever-increasing digital world, it might be time to give those employees some help.

By nature, humans are prone to error. And as our digital world grows, these human errors can be more impactful than ever before – mistakes relating to cybersecurity can have lasting and dire consequences. When employees make these mistakes through malware infections, humans are unfairly viewed as the weakest branch of the decision tree.

About the author

Charles Eagan, Chief Technology Officer at BlackBerry.

But employees are not often provided with the appropriate security solutions, so they resort to well-intentioned workarounds in order keep pace and get the job done. As data continues to flow faster and freer than ever before, it becomes more tempting to just upload that document from your personal laptop, or click on that link, or share that info to your personal email.

Security problems

Take, for instance, one of the most common security problems: phishing emails. An employee might follow instructions in a phishing email not only because it looks authentic, but that it conveys some urgency (usually from a manager or someone else of importance). Employee training can help reduce the likelihood of error, but solving the technological shortcoming is more effective: if a phishing email is blocked from delivery in the first place, we can help mitigate the human error factor.

This is where artificial intelligence can be a game-changer. We already use AI to simplify our home lives – we use it to perform a variety of tasks, from turning on lights, to playing our favorite music. But if AI solutions are deployed in the workplace, we can help address the biggest elephant in the IT room: data security.

Data security

Data security is a major area of concern, and it’s likely the leading cause for lost hours – and lost sleep – for security and IT professionals. According to a recent survey of over 500 IT professionals in the financial services industry, a whopping 94% said that they lack confidence in the ability of employees, consultants, and partners to safeguard customer data. 

And because cybersecurity is a complex domain – with many unknowns and moving parts – the rigid, conventional solutions can’t be effective. However, AI solutions can learn, adapt, and dynamically react to an organisation’s cybersecurity needs.

Not to worry, though – this is a far cry from the sensationalist sci-fi scenes of a robot takeover. Yes, AI can solve complex problems with a level of consistency and speed that’s unmatched by human intelligence. But it can’t replace human intelligence where it’s needed most: we must choose the right problems to solve. Once we identify that, we can start collecting the right data, designing the right solution, and creating the right process for our AI solutions to adapt, learn from feedback, and produce results.

AI guidance

AI can also provide employees with more time to tackle the impactful tasks of the business. Consider the case of phishing emails again: Even if the employee properly deletes that email, they’ve still spent valuable time in security training sessions, and in evaluating that email for potential threats. With an AI-based solution that detects phishing emails before they’re delivered, the employee’s time and efforts can be much better spent. 

AI is not about replacing human intelligence; it’s about empowering human intelligence. If we can use AI to do some of the heavy lifting of data security, we can give employees back some valuable time to focus more on what they do best: creative thinking, problem solving, and running the business. 

And that’s the best kind of help that we can give them.