How IBM is providing cybersecurity using artificial intelligence


Cybercrime is an epidemic. Consider these statistics from Checkmarx: Cybercrime is expected to cost businesses over $2 trillion annually by 2019, four times as much as 2015. In the U.S., a breach costs a company an estimated $15.4 million on average. Some hacks can be resolved in days, while others can take weeks or months.

These are more than mere statistics. Real-world examples abound. In December, Yahoo! revealed the largest known security breach to date, which compromised over 1 billion accounts, only months after it reported a separate breach involving 500 million users. These intrusions could take years to resolve and cost millions of dollars.

IBM is rolling out a new weapon in cyberdefense: its Jeopardy! -winning cognitive supercomputer Watson.

One of the technologies behind Watson is an artificial intelligence (AI) discipline known as deep learning. A software model of the brain is used to recreate our ability to learn. By using a massive number of examples, combined with sophisticated algorithms, the system learns to discover similarities among the examples and find differences. This results in the program mastering pattern recognition when reviewing large data sets.

IBM announced earlier this year that it was partnering with eight universities in a year-long research project to provide Watson with the requisite data necessary to expand its security protocol. These universities were chosen on the strength of their cybersecurity programs. According to IBM, the system was “learning the nuances of security research findings and discovering patterns and evidence of cyberattacks and threats that could otherwise be missed.” Students and faculty input security data while Watson learned the peculiarities specific to cybersecurity. It planned to process up to 15,000 documents per month, building its database of threat intelligence reports, cybercrime strategies, and threat databases.

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