TDSi: Safely harnessing the power of AI for next-generation security


John Davies, Managing Director of TDSi, explains how AI has resonated with the public in 2023 and how security experts can find tomorrow’s best solutions by incorporating it

It’s fair to say that 2023 has been the year where Artificial Intelligence (AI) has really struck a chord with the public in a big way. Whether its commentators extolling the powerful benefits of AI, or conversely taking a negative view that the use of AI could cost people their jobs and launch society into some sort of Matrix or Terminator-style dystopia, it is certainly an emotive and popular subject.

Being security experts, we at TDSi are always looking at the latest applications for any new technology and naturally we have long been assessing the capabilities of AI (or more accurately in many cases, Machine Learning) and I truly believe the current technology and applications are just scratching the surface. Here are some thoughts on the current and potential applications of this technology and the ethics that need to be considered with this.

Threat detection and prevention

Machine Learning has been an important component in security systems for some time, particularly for modelling behaviour patterns to target potential security issues with CCTV surveillance and access control systems. AI-powered security systems can analyse vast amounts of data in real-time and identify patterns and anomalies that might indicate security threats.

Machine Learning algorithms can continuously learn and adapt to and mitigate new threats, enhancing detection accuracy and reducing false positives. Along with physical security threats, this can equally enable organisations to proactively detect and prevent cybersecurity attacks, such as malware, phishing attempts, and network intrusions.

Enhanced authentication and access control

AI technologies, such as facial recognition and behavioural biometrics, have been improving authentication methods and access control systems for the last decade or so, and are continuing to become more complex and nuanced in their methods and applications. These advanced techniques provide a higher level of security, reducing the reliance on traditional passwords or physical tokens. AI algorithms can analyse user behaviour patterns and detect anomalies, helping to identify unauthorized access attempts or suspicious activities.

Facilities Management

AI and Machine Learning are also excellent for the assessment and improved management of facilities. By linking these systems to occupancy monitoring and Heating & Ventilation systems, they can automatically ensure optimum efficiency – something which of course is particularly important during the Cost-of-Living Crisis.

Beyond this, a really big opportunity for AI is using it to mine different data silos to identify relationships in hitherto disparate data sources, and then using these to generate behaviour analysis and predictions to better understand and cater for the needs of a facility and the people that use it.

Business Admin

AI systems are equally useful for improving productivity within security businesses or organisations just like any other sector, taking the strain on repetitive or easily mishandled tasks (such as invoicing or administration tasks) to save time and improve accuracy. AI-powered systems can also assist with document management, organisation, and retrieval, with AI-powered analytics tools providing in-depth reports, predictive analytics, and forecasting models, helping administrators gain a better understanding of their business operations.

Product Marketing and Development

Inevitably I think we are also likely to see the likes of ChatGPT being used more to generate ideas for marketing content. I would, however, sound a note of caution that AI generated content can be rather one dimensional and boring – it really requires a human being to properly address a human audience! AI algorithms can of course also process large volumes of data quickly and extract meaningful insights from it – which is perfect for understanding a new market, identifying trends, patterns, and correlations that might not be apparent to a person.

On the product development side, AI also has significant potential for checking product/software coding for bugs/debugging and helping with the design and application of new systems. There are also opportunities for it to be used for ‘automating’ other processes such as Tech Support (certainly for FAQ-type queries) and writing specification outlines.

Ethical considerations when utilising AI

Whenever you replace human judgement there needs to be careful consideration of the ethics. Obviously, Privacy and data protection can be a concern as AI-powered security systems often rely on collecting and analysing vast amounts of data, including personal and sensitive information. It is crucial to handle this data responsibly, ensuring compliance with relevant privacy laws and regulations. Transparency in data collection, informed consent, data anonymisation, and secure storage are all essential in protecting and upholding the privacy rights of the individual.

We also need to ensure there is no inbuilt bias or unfairness as AI algorithms are trained on historical data, which can reflect societal biases and prejudices. These biases can be perpetuated and amplified in security systems, leading to unfair treatment or discrimination.

Just like a human security team, AI systems should be transparent and accountable for their actions. Security systems that utilise AI algorithms should provide explanations for their decisions and actions, especially when it comes to identifying threats, making access control decisions, or flagging individuals as potential risks.

On a practical note, AI-powered security systems need to be reliable, accurate, and robust to perform effectively. System failures, false positives, or false negatives can have significant consequences, such as unnecessary investigations, privacy infringements, or missed security threats. Regular testing, validation, and monitoring of AI systems are crucial to ensure their reliability and to minimise errors.

While AI can automate many security processes, human oversight and control remain essential. It is crucial to strike a balance between AI automation and human judgment. Humans should have the ability to intervene, review decisions made by AI systems, and provide input where necessary, particularly in critical situations or when ethical considerations are at stake.

AI has enormous potential to transform many parts of our society and our lives, but its application needs to be carefully considered and measured and nowhere is this more important than in security. I think this technology gives us a glimpse into some exciting possibilities and will help us all cope with society’s challenges (growing and ageing populations, uncertain geopolitics, and economic uncertainty to name a few) but we need to make sure the technology serves us and not the other way around.


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