IBM's Watson supercomputer hardly needs any more resumé-padding. It's already won Jeopardy, written a cookbook, and dabbled in revolutionizing healthcare. Today, IBM announced that Watson is taking its cognitive learning chops to the cloud, where it'll apply them to analyzing, identifying, and (hopefully) preventing cybersecurity threats. But first, it's going to have to learn. There are already plenty of computer-enhanced approaches to combating cybercrime, most of which involve identifying outliers or abnormalities--like when a user logs a few too many failed password attempts--and determining whether those constitute some sort of threat.
IBM captured our imaginations when it unveiled Watson, the artificial intelligence computer capable of playing--and winning--the "Jeopardy" game show. Since then, Big Blue has been introducing Watson's analytics and learning capabilities across various industries, including health care and information security. Cognitive security technology such as Watson for Cybersecurity can change how information security professionals defend against attacks by helping them digest vast amounts of data. IBM Security is currently in the middle of a year-long research project working with eight universities to help train Watson to tackle cybercrime. Watson has to learn the "language of cybersecurity" to understand what a threat is, what it does, and what indicators are related.
On Tuesday, IBM announced that Watson, its cognitive computing system (and former Jeopardy champion), will be spending the next year training for a new job--fighting cybercrime. Watson for Cyber Security is a cloud-based version of IBM's cognitive computing tools that will be the result of a one-year-long research project that is starting in the fall. Students and faculty from eight universities will participate in the research and train Watson to better understand how to detect potential threats. Like many other cognitive systems, Watson learns by digesting large amounts of information. Essentially, the students will train Watson "by annotating and feeding the system security reports and data," according to an IBM press release.
IBM Security announced Watson for Cyber Security on Tuesday, a cloud-based version of the company's cognitive technology that will focus on learning the language of cybersecurity. The project is working to improve security analysts' capabilities by automating the "connections between data, emerging threats and remediation strategies." IBM will collaborate with eight universities starting this fall to expand the collection of security data IBM has trained Watson with. With its Watson cybersecurity effort, IBM is working to automate threat intelligence, allowing a machine to make connections in data that humans are sometimes unable to find. As an added bonus, if the project proves successful, businesses could integrate Watson's cybersecurity into their security platforms, helping to bridge the cybersecurity skills gap.
From deep learning neural networks to artificial intelligence-based facial recognition, artificial intelligence has taken leaps and bounds in 2016. Virtual assistants and autopilot driving services are already influencing our lives, and the pace of innovation is frightening to some – but exciting for others. But if you work in cyber security, these advances also herald more challenging times ahead. Cyber security is already one of the top business risks today, and adding artificial intelligence (AI) to the hacker's already-sophisticated toolkit will make the job of defending against cyber attackers harder still. Modern hackers don't just target governments or large organisations – they can infiltrate any network activity and impact public services and individuals too.