Organisations rush to use gen AI despite security concerns

Zscaler report shows 95% of organisations are using gen AI tools in some guise, but evidence shows organisations are failing to act on security concerns

Organisations are feeling the pressure to rush into generative AI tool usage, despite significant security concerns, according to research published by Zscaler

A leader in cloud security, Zscaler accelerates digital transformation so customers can be more agile, efficient, resilient, and secure. The company’s Zero Trust Exchange platform protects thousands of customers from cyberattacks and data loss by securely connecting users, devices, and applications in any location.

According to its latest survey, ‘All eyes on securing GenAI’, which spoke to more than 900 global IT decision makers, although 89% of organisations consider gen AI tools like ChatGPT to be a potential security risk, 95% are already using them in some guise within their businesses. 

Alarmingly, according to Zscaler 23% of this user group aren’t monitoring the usage at all, and 33% have yet to implement any additional gen AI-related security measures – though many have it on their roadmap.  

“Gen AI tools, including ChatGPT and others, hold immense promise for businesses in terms of speed, innovation and efficiency,” comments Sanjay Kalra, VP Product Management at Zscaler. “However, with the current ambiguity surrounding their security measures, a mere 39% of organisations perceive their adoption as an opportunity rather than a threat. This not only jeopardises their business and customer data integrity, but also squanders their tremendous potential.”

Zscaler's report found 95% of organisations are using gen AI tools in some guise. Pic: Zscaler

IT teams driving gen AI tool usage

Despite mainstream awareness, it is not employees who appear to be the driving force behind current interest and usage in gen AI tools – only 5% of respondents to Zscaler’s study said it stemmed from employees. Instead, 59% said usage was being driven by the IT teams directly. 

“The fact that IT teams are at the helm should offer a sense of reassurance to business leaders,” Kalra explains. “It signifies that the leadership team has the authority to strategically temper the pace of gen AI adoption and establish a firm hold on its security measures, before its prevalence within their organisation advances any further. However, it's essential to recognise that the window for achieving secure governance is rapidly diminishing.”

With 51% of respondents anticipating a significant increase in the interest of gen AI tools before the end of the year, organisations need to act quickly to close the gap between use and security.

To combat this, Zscaler has identified a number of steps business leaders can take to ensure gen AI use in their organisation is properly secured: 

  • Implement a holistic zero trust architecture to authorise only approved AI applications and users.
  • Conduct thorough security risk assessments for new AI applications to clearly understand and respond to vulnerabilities.
  • Establish a comprehensive logging system for tracking all AI prompts and responses.
  • Enable zero trust-powered Data Loss Prevention (DLP) measures for all AI activities to safeguard against data exfiltration.

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