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Pros and cons of GenAI from a cybersecurity lens


As the interconnected digital landscape continues to evolve, the use of artificial intelligence (AI)—particularly generative AI (GenAI)—is gaining momentum across various business sectors. This widespread interest aims to optimize operations, personalize user experiences, and augment the capabilities of personnel in many areas. Yet, while the potential of GenAI seems limitless, it also introduces a new dimension of cybersecurity risks. Responding to new and emerging threats requires organizations to reflect on the pros and cons associated with this technology and the associated trade-offs.

In this article, we explore some of the key considerations and trade-offs that innovative organizations face when adapting to this new technology both from an operational and cybersecurity perspective. 

The pros of GenAI

Emerging generative AI tools offer a myriad of benefits that organizations can leverage to their advantage. From revolutionized business operations to hyper-personalized user experiences, GenAI extends competitive advantages that can drive productivity, innovation, and growth. Some of the key benefits include: 

One of the most significant advantages of GenAI is its ability to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks. By automating certain activities, businesses can free up valuable human resources to focus on activities that can drive growth, ultimately improving productivity and accelerating your business.

Generative AI tools can generate new ideas, concepts, or content based on a myriad of input formats. Multi-modal capabilities are emerging where GenAI models are not limited only to text but can read images and audio as well. The potential for high-quality outputs generated through the multi-modal capabilities of GenAI is reshaping the way we approach business processes, innovation, and problem-solving.

It’s no secret that businesses of various sectors rely heavily on data analysis for decision-making. GenAI can assist in providing advanced analysis for existing data sets. Not only does it enhance the quality and quantity of data available for analysis, but also helps enhance it for machine learning models.

GenAI excels in pattern recognition and can identify complex trends and anomalies within vast data sets. This invaluable capability allows organizations to benefit from advanced analytical insights to make informed decisions.

GenAI can be tailored to meet your unique business needs; whether to create personalized customer experiences or develop bespoke solutions, the potential to drive business value is substantial.
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Potential risks

While the benefits of GenAI are undeniable, it's crucial for businesses to proceed with caution and address potential cybersecurity threats that this technology may impose, particularly in terms of safeguarding sensitive information and protecting against malicious use.

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GenAI models require a significant amount of data for training. The information that is provided could include sensitive or personal information. Storing and managing this data securely is crucial to prevent breaches.

The effectiveness of GenAI models hinges on the quality of the data they're trained on. When utilizing public data sets, there's a potential risk of encountering inaccurate or entirely incorrect information.

GenAI models acquire their knowledge from the data they are fed, and if that data is biased, it will inevitably lead to skewed responses from the model.

GenAI technology has piqued the interest of malicious actors who exploit it to craft phishing emails and write code that can be used in an attack. Another significant cybersecurity risk is associated with chatbots’ prompt injections, where chatbots are being manipulated in an attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in publicly available chatbots. These prompt injections can potentially compromise the integrity of the chatbot's responses and expose sensitive information, posing a serious threat to user privacy and data security.

Adopting GenAI requires a substantial investment in technology and personnel expertise and training. The resource allocation towards ensuring a secure and ethical utilization of GenAI is a critical consideration for business leaders.

Managing the risks

To effectively address the identified risks, it is imperative to modernize and integrate a robust cybersecurity program when incorporating GenAI into your business. Begin by considering the following strategies to strengthen your security posture when using GenAI:

Helping you embrace GenAI

While the integration of GenAI holds immense potential for enhancing digital resilience and responsiveness, it is imperative to approach it with a clear understanding as well as the support of experienced professionals. 

BDO's cybersecurity professionals specialize in maximizing the benefits of GenAI while minimizing the risks to your business. We can assess your current security program, identify any gaps, and create a formalized roadmap to meet your needs. Our focus encompasses a holistic perspective that offers end-to-end cyber capabilities. We can help you effectively manage cyber risk by implementing baseline security controls across your people, processes, and technology. This is fortified by our enhanced collaboration with Microsoft and our recent awards, including the Global Security Partner of the Year and the AI Impact Award, underscoring our expertise in cybersecurity services. 

To explore an extended suite of services, visit our Cybersecurity and Data and AI webpages.

For further support on how to manage your GenAI adoption securely, contact our leaders:

Natalie Journeay, Client Director, Cybersecurity

Craig Marchand, Vice-President, Exponential Labs

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