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ALSO Cloud UK: GenAI poses significant security risks

Distributor’s event shines light on the benefits and challenges faced by users looking to adopt the technology

ALSO Cloud UK has identified generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) as one of the biggest security challenges the channel will have to help small businesses navigate.

The channel player recently held its Cloud Summit ’24, with the main takeaway concerning the opportunity GenAI poses, but also the risks.

It pulled together a panel of security vendors who discussed the potential of the technology to improve customer lives, but also the potential problems it poses.

David Bowen, global business development director for Microsoft, spoke at the event and outlined the issues being faced by customers.

“In the latest Work trends index, published in May, we found that 79% of organisations believe AI is a business imperative, however, 60% of companies lack a plan and vision to implement the technology; this is where the ALSO partner ecosystem can support customers develop a strategy that quantifies the productivity gains of AI,” he said.

“The study also found that 75% of workers are already using AI, and of these, 78% are bringing their own AI tools for tasks. These lack the needed levels of security, data protection and compliance, leaving organisations’ data exposed,” added Bowen.

He said that its Copilot software that harnessed AI was an example of where the technology, if delivered securely, would make a positive impact. “Copilot is already enabling much greater productivity levels, allowing teams to spend less time on repetitive tasks and spend more time working on more creative and impactful work,” said Bowen.

Highlighting opportunities

Mark Appleton, chief customer officer for ALSO Cloud UK, said it was important to bring vendors and partners together to highlight the opportunities GenAI offered the channel and focus minds around the risks.

“By working closely with all of our partners, we not only share insights and collaborate on the best security methods, but also provide the very best tailored options for our client base,” he said. “ALSO is committed to offering solutions that aid in protecting modern businesses across the channel and beyond.

“One message was clear: generative AI presents the biggest security challenges to British MSPs and SMEs,” said Appleton. “New cyber threats are rapidly developing as GenAI has become more accessible for cyber actors to exploit. The bar of entry for cyber attacks has been lowered, with ransomware attempts becoming easier to create – as they are no longer limited to those with advanced cyber skills to enact them.”

The hype around AI and the promise of business benefits means customers expect their channel partners to help them adopt the technology, and partners will have to react to those evolving demands.

Robert Pritchard, founder of the Cyber Security Expert, said AI has already had a significant impact on the IT landscape.

“The world has changed completely in recent years, with cloud-first dominating as the best solution, even though securing it is not without challenges,” he said. “The old model (‘on-prem’ and trusted network) is outdated, and legislation for service providers is coming as the risk to critical infrastructure now dependent on modern technology services needs protection more than ever.”

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