The war on cybercrime demonstrates why artificial intelligence must be redefined
SEE ALSO: How to secure your privacy on your phoneCybersecurity experts can’t wait for these jobs to be filled. They need technology that augments their abilities by filling gaps in monitoring and identifying threats. The good news is there is a growing understanding among security experts about the benefits of cognitive security. A recent survey by the IBM Institute of Business Value found that nearly 60 percent of security professionals believe cognitive security solutions can significantly slow down cybercriminals. The same survey revealed there will be a three-fold increase in the percentage of companies implementing cognitive-enabled security solutions in the next two to three years, from 7 to 21 percent. This won’t alleviate the need to hire additional cybersecurity experts, because the fight against cybercrime will require a closer alliance between human and machine. Even if all the open cybersecurity jobs were filled, we would still face a crisis due to the staggering volume of data that humans alone simply can't consume. The average organization sees over 200,000 pieces of security event data per day with enterprises spending $1.3 million a year dealing with false positives alone, equaling nearly 21,000 wasted hours. Couple this with 10,000 security research papers published each year and over 60,000 security blogs published each month, and security analysts are severely challenged to move with informed speed. AI will help security professionals by sorting through all this data, using natural language processing to understand the imprecise human language contained in blogs, articles, videos, reports, alerts and other “unstructured data,” connecting obscure data points humans couldn’t possibly spot, and making recommendations on remediation strategies based on those connections and insights. Without AI, unstructured data will continue to be the Achilles heel of cyber-defense because it represents a huge blind spot, comprising more than 80% of all data. Augmenting the expertise of cyber professionals, AI systems are learning how to monitor unstructured data to detect risks before they emerge. As they continue to learn, AI systems will be more adept at detecting the difference between a computer glitch and a malicious attack, alleviating the need for security analysis to waste valuable time on wild goose chases. Once an attack is identified, security analysts often turn to the Internet for the latest ways to address it, generating thousands of pages of results that may or may not contain the solution. It’s a process that is neither fast nor accurate. In this stage of the fight, AI can play an important role analyzing reams of information, including unstructured data, to identify the most probable fixes – and do so in orders of magnitude faster than any human. While we are just on the forefront of the “cognitive” era of security, progress is well underway in making this vision a reality. Cognitive tools such as IBM’s Watson are currently being trained to ingest and understand vast amounts of security data and research created for human consumption. Dozens of organizations are already working with this technology and helping discover new ways Watson can be used in the fight against cybercrime. In the future, bots will seek out network vulnerabilities, diagnose them and recommend ways to patch them – all while working seamlessly with cybersecurity experts who will be even more valuable in the fight against cybercrime because they have been trained in the use of augmented intelligence. Today, the often automatic reaction to any mention of systems gaining intelligence is that the robots have come to take our jobs. In the war on cybercrime, reality could not be further from this view. AI will enable humans to deal with ever-increasing threats by augmenting our expertise – but it’s critical for people to first understand and accept the true definition of AI. The writer is Chief Technology Officer, IBM Security
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