What Is The Role of Machine Learning in Security?

May 6, 2022 • Shannon Flynn


ML (machine learning) has become a vital part of cybersecurity. Without ML, cybersecurity is impossible to deploy effectively. Yet, you can’t effectively use machine learning without a comprehensive data set.

Why is machine learning critical to the success of security?

Machine learning benefits cybersecurity by analyzing patterns and learning how to prevent attacks while responding to changing behaviors. Furthermore, it helps cybersecurity personnel be proactive in prevention and responses to real-time attacks. As a result of ML, organizations can strategically use their resources and reduce time spent on routine tasks.

How Does Machine Learning Work in Cybersecurity?

In machine learning, computer scientists will create patterns and manipulate them to produce algorithms. To develop these patterns, you need lots of data and statistical analysis that is relevant, complete and rich context. Yet, it’s not only about the quantity of data. You also need quality.

How accurate and rapid security depends on the data collection. To gather data, you have to collect it from various systems, process, correlate and analyze it. Some of these systems may include Azure, Cloud API, Statistical Analysis Systems, etc.

Once you have the logs, you should validate them to standardize them. By normalizing the traffic logs against threats, data analysts can monitor risky user activity. 

Organizations use ML in cybersecurity for developing defense responses. It enhances security processes and enables security analysts to identify and deal with new attacks easily.

The following are a few methods of how machine learning aids security.

What are Applications of Machine Learning in Security?

Detecting and Recognizing Threats

Machine learning algorithms are for detecting and responding to attacks rapidly. This method works by analyzing data sets of security attacks and identifying malicious patterns of activities. Once a similar event is detected, the trained ML model automatically manages and neutralizes the malicious threats.

For instance, the dataset you feed to a machine learning model is for using IOCs (Indicators of Compromise). These help to monitor, identify and respond to real-time attacks.


Traditional phishing detection methods lack speed and accuracy when differentiating between harmless and malicious attacks. With ML algorithms, it can identify patterns to reveal malicious emails. ML works by training the models to recognize features — email headers, body and punctuation patterns — and classify whether adversarial or harmless.


WebShell is a malicious code a hacker loads into a website to access the database and modify the directory’s server. In turn, attackers collect personal information. However, ML can detect these behaviors and identify malicious activity.

Machine learning works the same way with UBA (User Behavior Analytics). UBA supplements a layer of security measures, providing visibility that allows you to detect account compromises and mitigate malicious activity. Using ML algorithms categorizes user behavior patterns to differentiate between normal and abnormal behavior. 

If unusual activity occurs on a device through a network, ML gives the user a risk score. Some of this activity typically includes late-night employee logins, inconsistencies of remote access or high numbers of downloads. ML’s scoring depends on activity, time and patterns.

Task Automation

One benefit of ML in cybersecurity is its ability to automate tasks in malware analysis, network log analysis and vulnerability assessments. While incorporating machine learning into the security workflow, companies accomplish tasks more efficiently and mitigate threats much more quickly than humans. 

By automating repetitive processes, organizations reduce the need for human resources, reducing costs in the long run. 

What is the Future of Machine Learning

Machine learning may be a powerful tool. However, it’s important to remember technology is still developing. Cyber threats still exist, and technology is only as good or bad as the analysts controlling it. So, there will always be an attacker exploiting weaknesses and developing technology to find them. That’s why it’s crucial to combine technology and processes with industry professionals to detect and respond to threats accurately and rapidly.