IBM Watson Moves into Commercial Testing

IBM Watson for Cybersecurity is moving into the commercial phase.

After training for a year on the language of cybersecurity, the artificial intelligence engine is entering a beta phase with 40+ security teams around the world, IBM said, in industries such as finance, healthcare, energy and education.

Sun Life Financial, University of Rochester Medical Center, SCANA Corporation, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, California Polytechnic State University, University of New Brunswick, Avnet, Smarttech and others will be testing Watson’s ability to assist in the battle against cybercrime.

Watson will enhance existing live security operations, and the results will also help IBM refine Watson’s cybersecurity capabilities and pioneer new use cases for the technology.

The latter could include determining whether or not a current security “offense” is associated with a known malware or cybercrime campaign; if so, Watson provides background on the malware employed, vulnerabilities exploited and scope of the threat, among other insights. Watson could also better identify suspicious behavior; Watson provides additional context to user activity outside of the primary suspicious behavior, providing better guidance to whether or not an activity is malicious.

Today’s increasingly challenging security environment has created the need for more intelligence to identify and prioritize threats, which is in turn increasing the workload of security analysts with more alerts and anomalies to process than ever. Watson for Cyber Security uses intelligent technologies like machine learning and natural language processing, which can help security analysts make better, faster decisions from vast amounts of data.

Cognitive technologies like Watson have thus emerged as a critical evolution in the cybersecurity space; while only 7% of security professionals are using cognitive solutions today, a new study from IBM Institute of Business Value shows that usage of cognitive security may see a three-fold increase in the next two to three years.

The study also shows that nearly 60 percent of security professionals believe that emerging cognitive technologies will be a critical part of changing the tides in the war on cybercrime.

“Customers are in the early stages of implementing cognitive technologies,” said Sandy Bird, CTO, IBM Security. “Our research suggests that this adoption will increase three-fold over the next three years, as tools like Watson for Cybersecurity mature and become pervasive in security operations centers.”

Security professionals said that the top benefit they expect to see from cognitive technologies is improved detection and incident response decision-making capabilities, which was indicated by 40% of respondents. Currently, the average data breach takes organizations an average of 201 days to identify and an average of 70 days to contain. Security professionals expect cognitive to play a big part in reducing this time by providing them with better data to make fast decisions.

Photo © PHOTOCREO Michael Bednarek

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