IBM Watson is a cognitive computing platform that uses artificial intelligence to essentially "think" for itself. A new cloud-based version of the technology dubbed Watson for Cyber Security has just been announced — and its coming after hackers.
IBM Watson is a sophisticated deep learning AI program that famously won the TV quiz show Jeopardy against two former champions in 2011. It's now being used to combat cybercrime via Watson for Cyber Security; the first technology to offer cognition of security data at scale using Watson's ability to reason and learn.
In addition to IBM's X-Force research library, the platform will receive further training from eight US universities that have been charged with annotating and feeding the system security reports and data. Participating schools include the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; Pennsylvania State University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; New York University; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC); the University of New Brunswick; the University of Ottawa and the University of Waterloo.
In a scenario that sounds worryingly like the beginning of The Terminator, IBM is talking up Watson's ability to assist the Federal Government's recently announced Cyber Security Strategy:
"Watson’s ability to reason and learn from vast amounts of unstructured security data, and convert this into actionable insights, will help increase the speed at which security professionals can analyse and react to threats. This will not only alleviate the skills gap we’re experiencing in Australia in the long term, but also mean that security professionals will be able to better prepare for emerging threats."
According to IBM, the chief benefit of Watson for Cyber Security over traditional security solutions is its ability to look at both unstructured and structured data from internal and external sources. It can analyse everything from research reports to social media and blog posts to help it detect potential threats.
The ability to learn and modify its behavior through education will allow the technology to quickly discover significant patterns that would otherwise be missed. In other words, it essentially automates the connections between data, emerging threats and remediation strategies; all while crunching data that traditional security tools cannot process.
According to IBM's research, there are currently over 75,000 known software vulnerabilities reported in the National Vulnerability Database, 10,000 security research papers published each year and over 60,000 security blogs published each month. Watson for Cyber Security is one way of tying all this together.
IBM is planning to begin beta production deployments of the technology by the end of the year. In addition to providing insights into emerging threats it will also provide recommendations on how to stop them. There's no word on pricing but expect products based on the technology to be high.