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Digital Transformation Q1 2024

The real-world impact of AI on cybersecurity job roles

iStock / Getty Images Plus / gorodenkoff

Ed Parsons

Director, ISC2

New study, ‘AI in Cyber 2024: Is the Cybersecurity Profession Ready?’ assesses the potential impact of AI on cybersecurity professionals, including the effect on job roles and concerns around escalating threats and preparedness.

Developments in artificial intelligence (AI), particularly generative AI, have accelerated in the last decade, Globally, governments and industries are exploring AI’s potential benefits across fields, including cybersecurity. Advances have led to speculation that AI will threaten jobs. In cybersecurity roles, AI is likely to have positive impact rather than eliminate positions.

Optimism about AI’s potential for advancements and efficiencies in the field is high. Yet, the industry faces a skills and workforce shortage driven by digitization and regulation. This is met with concurrent demand for industry preparedness to mitigate emerging cyber risks. 

Changing cybersecurity landscape

Recent survey findings show 88% of cybersecurity professionals believe that AI will significantly impact their jobs, now or in the near future; and 35% have already witnessed its effects on everyday tasks.

The cybersecurity profession is constantly evolving. In the face of autonomous software solutions, 56% predict that AI will make some parts of their job obsolete. However, 82% are optimistic that AI will improve job efficiency, performing some tasks more reliably and at greater speed and scale. Whether that’s analysing user behaviour, monitoring network traffic or detecting threats. 

82% are optimistic that AI will improve job efficiency, performing some tasks more reliably and at greater speed and scale.

Positive workforce impact

While these efficiencies may eliminate human tasks, AI alone will not stem demand for security professionals, nor close the workforce gap, which stands at 73,000 individuals in the UK. Instead, it will enable the field to prioritise higher-value tasks and ease entry for aspiring professionals without conventional requirements.

Automating mundane and time-consuming tasks, and implementing new technologies, could make jobs more interesting, improving recruitment and retention. AI could scale safe experiential learning opportunities, addressing the scarcity preventing junior talent from filling roles. This would alleviate pressure on the existing workforce, reducing stress and attrition.

AI management and risks

Unsurprisingly, threat actors are also leveraging AI to accelerate malicious activities. Three-quarters of professionals express concerns about AI’s potential use in cyberattacks, particularly with deepfakes, misinformation and social engineering.

Businesses anticipate security professionals to facilitate the secure adoption of AI. However, 41% of professionals admit to having minimal or no expertise in securing the technology. The future is bright for the cyber profession, especially for employers and professionals who embrace AI. Continuous education will be crucial to ensure professionals realise the operational benefits of the technology while managing the associated risks.

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