In today’s fast-paced digital world, businesses are always looking out for a competitive advantage. And nothing has the potential to transform our use of technology more than artificial intelligence (AI) programs like chatbots and automated note-taking apps.
These tools come with lofty promises: boost productivity, streamline communications, improve inefficient workflows, and enhance customer service. Boosters and true believers promise a radically improved AI-fueled world, while many tech ethicists worry that AI could have a catastrophic impact on human society.
Meanwhile, cybersecurity experts recommend a pragmatic middle lane: explore new AI applications to see how they work but do so with caution. If chatbots and note-taking apps make a positive difference in your day, embrace them—but prioritize safety and security while you do so.
As we learn more about the brave new world of AI, CMIT Solutions shares smart strategies for using apps like ChatGPT and Fireflies.ai, the advantages for businesses, and the need for cybersecurity.
What can AI do for my business?
There are remarkable advantages for organizations of all sizes:
- Efficiency. Note-taking AI apps can transcribe meetings, organize data, and create summaries, saving valuable time for busy employees.
- Automation. AI-driven chatbots can respond to client inquiries 24/7, reducing wait times and improving customer satisfaction.
- Cost-Effectiveness. Many AI apps offer basic versions for free and affordable monthly plans for enhanced features. These are far more cost-effective options than investing in expensive software or hiring additional staff.
- Data analysis. More advanced AI apps offer large enterprises the ability to analyze large datasets and uncover valuable insights, helping businesses make more informed decisions.
Should I worry about using AI?
While the benefits of AI are clear, the risks associated with its implementation are equally significant. Cyberthreats are constantly evolving, and AI apps can be vulnerable targets if not properly secured. Many cybersecurity experts worry that hackers will eventually figure out how to create new malware and ransomware strains using AI technology. Other day-to-day concerns can also pop up. Here are a few that CMIT Solutions has encountered:
- Data breaches. AI apps, especially those handling customer data, are prime targets for cybercriminals looking to steal sensitive information. A data breach can inflict financial losses on any company—and cause considerable reputational damage.
- Privacy concerns. AI apps are constantly collecting and processing user data, raising concerns about how private that information really is. Since AI apps are so new, it isn’t clear whether they’re truly compliant with data privacy regulations like the European Union’s GDPR or the California Consumer Privacy Act. California’s Attorney General recently launched an inquiry into employer compliance with AI recording apps.
- Software vulnerabilities. If popular, well-protected apps like Microsoft Outlook and Google Chrome can be hacked, imagine what bad actors can do with beta versions of new apps that are built and launched fast without robust security configurations in place. AI researchers warn that malicious actors can manipulate some models to generate false results or even hateful content.
- Third-party risks. Any business that works with outside vendors knows the risk it poses. In many industries, like healthcare, collaborators even have to execute legal Business Associate Agreements (BAAs) spelling out specific security measures to take. Most AI apps have yet to implement such protections, making it risky to expose protected information.
How to ensure AI app security?
So, how can small businesses embrace AI while safeguarding their operations? Here are some actionable steps:
- Collect proper consent for application usage. This is particularly important for note-taking apps. As with any recording in the workplace, specific jurisdictions may require specific protocols like two-party consent for documenting or transcribing conversations. And if you’re conducting a hybrid meeting with employees in different locations, what constitutes consent may vary depending on each person’s locale.
- Evaluate app providers. When selecting AI apps, thoroughly assess the security practices of the providers. Look for companies that have a strong track record of data protection, data encryption, and transparency about the transmission of information. Also, make sure that AI apps have access controls and login protocols built in so that your business can limit who has access to apps and the sensitive data they may contain.
- Provide responsive and relevant user training. AI apps might seem like a mystery to many employees—but that’s probably because they haven’t been trained on how to use them yet. Educate employees about the potential risks of AI apps along with the potential benefits. Train them on how to use the apps intuitively by using smart prompts while also teaching them to recognize and report suspicious activities.
- Acknowledge the threat of AI-driven social engineering. If you’ve received an invitation from a LinkedIn contact you don’t recognize, you may have been targeted already. This could become increasingly common with chatbots. Hackers have been known to exploit LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media platforms to conduct cyber surveillance of potential targets. However, creating legitimate-looking online profiles with bios, posts, and other activity is time-intensive. With AI tools, however, hackers could quickly fill out multiple profiles and send hundreds of messages a day encouraging someone to connect—and, ultimately, click a malicious link or share private information. This will require social media users to be more cautious and discerning as unfamiliar requests potentially increase.
- Defend your entire network with multi-layered security protection. The best defenses respond with flexibility to evolving threats—and AI represents one of the biggest potential problems in a generation. That’s why CMIT Solutions surrounds its clients with dynamic tiers of different cybersecurity protections:
- Anti-spam filters that quarantine many phishing attempts before they land in your inbox
- Advanced firewalls that provide robust perimeter security
- Endpoint detection services that protect every device and isolate any specific threats
- Remote monitoring and IP traffic analysis that identify anomalies and block broad web-based attacks
- Security incident event management (SIEM) and security operations center (SOC) tools that automate mitigation steps in case of an attack