Next-generation firewalls and other advanced security tools can be a double-edged sword. They’re great at ferreting out and thwarting attacks that get past older technologies. But they also generate far more alerts and logs, which overload IT staff.

No wonder one of the first things IT departments do after deploying next-gen security tools is minimize alerts. That avoids alert fatigue and the need to hire additional staff — while undermining the tools’ return on investment and increasing the risk that hackers will get through because an alarm didn’t sound.

The good news? Such tradeoffs aren’t necessary, thanks to artificial intelligence. Network behavioral analytics and other forms of AI can scrutinize logs and alerts to determine which incidents are worth bringing to human attention, which ones can be ignored and which ones can be addressed automatically.

Just ask Braun, where alerts and logs got so overwhelming that it considered hiring full-time security analysts. Instead, the German consumer products company turned to Masergy’s Managed Endpoint Detection and Response service, which uses network behavioral analytics to minimize alerts, but not at the expense of security.

In IT, AI-enhanced security frees staff to focus on other tasks, including ones that contribute to the bottom line and brand; but the underlying concept and benefits have been proven in many other types of enterprise applications. For example, contact centers are increasingly adding AI such as natural language understanding to their interactive voice response systems. These can enable self-service for most calls, freeing contact center staff to focus on needs too complex to automate. That means fewer staff members, less stressful working conditions and as a result reduced turnover.

More Control, Not Less

AI ultimately is a form of automation, where one common concern is letting go. Businesses often worry that automation means losing control of their network or their customer experience or something else.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, with security, AI means more control, not less. That’s because AI augments staff instead of replacing them, with the degree varying by each organization’s needs and comfort level. The degree also can vary over time: apply AI sparingly at first, get comfortable, identify additional opportunities and then implement those, too.

Incorporating AI also is a matter of when, not if. One reason is that as a business grows, automation becomes increasingly necessary simply because it’s impossible to afford or even find enough additional people to do everything manually.

Another reason is that hackers are already using AI, partly because similar to bots and spiders, automation enables them to do more with fewer people. AI enables businesses to expand their security army accordingly and just as effectively — including in terms of cost. Can your defenses keep up?

Learn more about CDW’s digital transformation solutions and services.

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