Supplementing cyber security strategy with Artificial Intelligence

Leveraging Artificial Intelligence to address cyber security can enable organizations a fast and efficient response to a cyberattack

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MIT News

Organizations quite often spend millions of dollars on deploying various technologies on cybersecurity to defend against data breaches. Despite that, devastating hacking continues to occur.

Let's not forget the breaches at Target, Sony, Home Depot, along with the recent theft of millions of dollars from a Bangladesh bank by attacking financial transaction network SWIFT and the many examples of ransomware in news headlines this year. Does it mean that the technology is not advanced enough to outwit hackers? The race between security professionals and hackers seems to be a never-ending game, and hackers are seemingly always ahead in this race.

Next Generation Artificial Intelligence (AI) seems to be a breakthrough technology to provide capability and hope to react instantly in real time in the event of an underway cyber-attack or data breach. Next Gen AI can provide huge advantages over a human’s capability when it comes to combating an attack by recognizing and detecting an in-progress attack due to a change in the network and user behavior using advance machine learning technology. Humans will take time to understand and observe changes in the behavior. By the time a person understands something, it is too late, resulting a substantial damage to the organization.

Next Gen AI could make it possible for humans and technology to work side-by-side. AI is already used at various places, for example when you’re driving a car you can voice command your music system to play a list of romantic songs or tune into your favorite FM station.

With this same analogy, Next-gen AI can be used to develop advanced solutions to defend against cyber-attacks and data breaches. Next-gen AI solutions can be developed in such a way that they understand the user and network behavior, learn business context by self-learning for a few days to months, and then connect dots instantly if a deviation occurs in the normal behavior in the real-time.

Today, security analysts spend a lot of time in analyzing flooding false alerts and notifications from security monitoring tools, and actual attack in-progress either goes unnoticed or get noticed too late that it would have already cause huge damages. Harnessing the power of Next Gen AI to tackle today’s sophisticated cyber-attack in a manner that promises to be fast and more effective than traditional approaches will definitely help reduce the data breaches and could be a turning point in cybersecurity world.

Many startups and organizations have already started developing cybersecurity solutions using Next-gen AI capabilities, and I believe these solutions will help reduce the major cyber attacks in a substantial way in today’s digital world. For example, a group of people at MIT are working to create a cyber defense solution by looking into data to detect suspicious activity, and connect dots into meaningful patterns. IBM Security announced its cognitive technology Watson for Cybersecurity, which promises to help monitor and detect security threats. IBM will be partnering with universities to help speed up learning cryptic terminology of the cybersecurity world by flooding security reports and data into it.

In summary, it could take a few week to months for Next-gen AI to ‘learn’ what is suspicious activity vs what is not by analyzing the user behaviors and the nature of business processes but will get sharpened day by day. The objective is to automatically learn and understand cybersecurity cryptic by the rate that humans can’t possibly monitor, detect and investigate security events in the enterprise. It is the hope also that this use of AI can help predict any threat that may surface in coming days by watching and learning the organization business process, looking where sensitive data is processed and stored before taking it out to C&C servers.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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