Data analytics is at the juncture of man and machine

Relying on human intuition in combination with data analytics might help security professionals find their way out of the complicated data labyrinth.

maze lost question direction wayward

The network, in my mind’s eye, feels like a complex labyrinth with winding passages leading to opened and closed ports and firewalls exploding. Interestingly, when I did a little Google search to make sure I had my Greek mythology correct, I stumbled across this nugget of wisdom.

In reference to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and the labyrinth built by Daedalus, Wikipedia warns, “This story thus encourages others to consider the long-term consequences of their own inventions with great care, lest those inventions do more harm than good.”

From what I hear, the myriad of security tools that elicit alerts of potential threats can sometimes do just that. Because IT folks are “inundated” and “barraged” with alerts, they stop paying attention to them all together. The result is exactly then the same consequence of an invention doing more harm than good. Whether that perception is true or false is up for debate.

Sisense CEO Amir Orad holds that data analytics can be used to improve security in the enterprise.

“Getting endless alerts is a problem. It’s too much, too many applications, and too much traffic,” Orad said. “What is happening now at large organizations is that they have way too many incidents, and we are trying to analyze all the events they are getting from the various systems then they have to determine what is a priority within those incident."

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When organizations have endless alerts to figure out, they need some way to analyze it better within their limited resources.

Orad said, “Agile business intelligence is very different from machine learning. Intuition is critical to security. We are using human beings to navigate in the data with very intuitive tools,” whether it’s physical security in a retail store or cyber security of an enterprise.

Sisense CEO Amir Orad

For example, a large retailer that has had loss of inventory needs a very intuitive tool in order to search through and make sense of the hundreds of millions of inventory pieces. “That can’t be done with excel or a white board,” said Orad.

Context and understanding the business is critical in using data analytics, which makes the success of these tools contingent upon the human beings who use them.  The success of data analytics demands a bond between humans and machines. “You have to have context to appreciate what is relevant to your business,” said Orad.

“Twenty years from now, I don’t think you will see companies that will be successful unless they take advantage of their data assets and using analytical tools to do that,” said Orad. 

As technology advances and machines continue to supplant the work of human beings, we would all do well to heed the warning of Ovid’s masterpiece. Denying the value of human intuition could do more harm than good.

Orad said, “Some companies end up dictating almost in a script how the analysis should work. You lose all the intuition in the business. The minute you give a prescribed pre-defined way of doing things, you will lose all of the optimal thinking which means that you can miss threats. You have to give some leeway.”

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