IT Brief Asia - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
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Japanese SMBs see AI benefits but fret over security
Thu, 4th Apr 2024

A recent Japanese study by Barracuda Networks reveals a favourable sentiment among Japan’s small to medium businesses (SMBs) towards the potential benefits of artificial intelligence (AI).

However, concerns remain with gaps in security, knowledge, and skills indicating hesitation and uncertainty with AI implementation. The research examined views from 500 IT professionals in companies with a workforce of 50 to 200 employees in late 2023. Notably, 47% of the respondents held C-suite roles within their respective organisations.

A promising 76% of respondents believed that AI could improve operational efficiency and speed up the gathering of crucial customer insights beneficial for business development and market research. However, alongside this optimism, apprehensions became clear. A significant 62% of the surveyed companies expressed concern that current applications of generative AI in businesses are unofficial, pointing to a lack of regulation and visibility. Additionally, 69% shared worries about the inherent risks accompanying AI deployment, underscoring the demand for robust security measures and comprehensive risk management strategies.

The Barracuda Networks report goes on to highlight that, a slight majority of respondents—55%—admitted uncertainty over how customised AI tools could be manipulated by potential attackers in email-based scams, while 36% harbour a favourable view of AI as a method of fortifying protection against such threats. The report emphasises that AI tools can be used advantageously for threat prevention, detection, and response, even as attackers can leverage them to conduct faster, more sophisticated, and more targeted attacks.

In terms of skills and abilities required to counter AI-based cyberattacks, an overwhelming 63% felt a deficiency in their capabilities to handle such threats. This response underscores the requirement for refined education and upskilling in this sphere. Moreover, 77% expressed the need for external partners in the implementation and management of AI solutions.

Makoto Suzuki, Regional Sales Director for Japan at Barracuda Networks, comments on these findings, “It's clear from the report that Japanese SMBs see the value of AI for business productivity. However, gaps remain when it comes to understanding and addressing the threats that AI can pose to an organizations cybersecurity posture. This could hold businesses back from harnessing the full potential of AI to revolutionize business performance and competitiveness by optimizing processes, reducing costs, improving quality, and providing new insights and ideas. The good news is that it's possible to harness the full benefits of AI while mitigating the risks.”

To enhance their cybersecurity resilience, Barracuda recommends that businesses should consider deploying AI-enabled security tools to counter attackers who leverage generative AI and machine learning to build their cyber weapons. By incorporating this approach, alongside regular security awareness training and a sound approach to security basics like software patching and data backups, businesses can significantly strengthen their resilience. They would not only be more prepared to detect and prevent attacks, but would also respond better and recover faster, in case of future cyber threats.