Will Next Generation Firewalls have feelings? Injecting AI to Firewalls – monsters or angels?

CYBERS 08.11.2023

In a rapidly evolving world of technology, cybersecurity is at the forefront of innovation. On a recent episode of KüberCAST, Marko Haarala from Cisco shares insights into how the future of cybersecurity is being shaped by the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and language interfaces. In this blog post, we’ll delve into some key takeaways from the podcast and discover how AI is revolutionizing the world of cybersecurity.

Marko Haarala, who leads security efforts for Finland and the Baltics at Cisco, brings over two decades of experience in the field. He reflects on how the landscape of security has transformed since the ’90s when networks and technologies were significantly different. With a rich background in various aspects of security, he now finds himself at Cisco, working on the architecture of the future.

The Role of AI in Cybersecurity

The discussion kicks off with a look back at the early 2000s when “next-generation” was the buzzword in technology. Everything was touted as “next-gen,” but now it seems that the future belongs to AI. AI has infiltrated the realm of security, and Marko emphasizes that it’s high time for good guys  tp harness AI to combat cyber threats effectively.

AI is not merely a buzzword; it’s a game-changer in the world of cybersecurity. Marko underlines that for companies to excel in the world of AI, they must first become proficient data companies. AI thrives on data, and this is the driving force behind integrating AI into various security products. With the ever-increasing speed of cyber threats, AI becomes a critical tool to help security professionals keep pace.

The AI Firewall Assistant

Cisco is at the forefront of incorporating AI into their products, and one notable example is the AI-powered firewall assistant. This assistant is designed to simplify policy creation, auditing, testing, and troubleshooting for firewall configurations. Instead of manually configuring rules, users can now engage in a conversation with the firewall, making the process more efficient and error-free. While firewalls may not have feelings, their AI-infused personalities will guide users in making security decisions. These interactions will make it easier for security analysts to understand and implement firewall policies effectively.

In a complex environment with thousands of firewall rules, AI can play a pivotal role in analyzing and optimizing these rules. It helps security professionals understand the implications of their policies and identify potential issues before they become critical. Language models like AI are incredibly powerful tools in cybersecurity. They can process vast amounts of data, identify anomalies, and correlate information to provide a comprehensive view of potential threats. In the world of cybersecurity, data is the new oil, and AI is the means to harness its power.

The future roadmap for AI in cybersecurity looks promising. Cisco is already implementing AI solutions in various products, such as their Meraki cloud-based networking family. The goal is to use AI to not only highlight problems but also provide solutions, making cybersecurity more efficient and effective.

Quality Data Matters

The success of AI in cybersecurity is heavily reliant on the quality of the data it is fed. Marko emphasizes that if you feed AI malicious data, it will provide harmful answers. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that the data AI is trained on is accurate and reliable. Marko acknowledges, that AI can provide incredible insights but also highlights that the quality of the answers is determined by the questions asked. It’s important for users to frame their queries effectively to extract meaningful information from AI.

To enhance cybersecurity, it’s essential to break down silos between different security technologies. When different systems can communicate and share data, AI can provide a more comprehensive view of potential threats. This approach is especially valuable in identifying complex, multifaceted attacks.


The integration of AI into the world of cybersecurity is not just a trend but a necessity. Marko Haarala’s insights from the KüberCAST podcast emphasize that AI is helping security professionals streamline their operations, make better decisions, and keep up with the rapidly evolving threat landscape. As AI continues to evolve, we can expect a future where conversations with firewalls are as common as asking Google for directions. To dive deeper into the world of cybersecurity and AI, be sure to listen to the full episode of KüberCAST with Marko Haarala from Cisco HERE > KüberCAST #23 


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