IBM Watson AI: These firms are fighting cybercrime using cognitive computing

IBM launches its Watson for Cyber Security beta program to test how cognitive computing can boost cybersecurity.
Written by Danny Palmer, Senior Writer

IBM Watson is set to take the fight to cybercrime.

Image: IBM

Fortune 500 companies across the globe are tackling cybercrime by deploying IBM Watson's cognitive computing power.

Watson for Cyber Security, a project designed to take the fight to hackers, is a year-long research effort that initially was focused around universities but has been extended to various industries, including banking, healthcare, insurance, and automotive.

Using artificial intelligence technologies, such as machine learning and natural language processing, to analyse vast amounts of structured and unstructured data, Watson is designed to help cybersecurity professionals identify threats.

A total of 40 organisations are taking part in the IBM Watson for Cyber Security beta program in order to test Watson's ability to fight cybercrime. Participants include Sun Life Financial, University of Rochester Medical Center, SCANA Corporation, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, California Polytechnic State University, University of New Brunswick, Avnet, and Smarttech.

By using Watson to shore up cybersecurity defences, IBM hopes to demonstrate new use cases for the cognitive system, such as determining whether a cyberattack is associated with known variants of malware or particular cybercrime campaigns. If so, IBM Watson Security is designed to provide information on the malware employed and the level of threat posed.

Watson is also built to aid organisations in identifying suspicious behaviour, by applying behavioural biometrics and using context to establish whether user activity is malicious or just different to normal. By working with beta customers, IBM hopes to enhance Watson's understanding of cybersecurity data and operations and better integrate it into everyday processes.

IBM believes that cognitive technology will play a critical role in the war against cybercrime as the technology matures. According to the company's own research, seven percent of organisations currently use cognitive technology in this way and that figure is set to grow.

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

IBM Watson's cognitive systems are also being deployed to aid in healthcare and help re-imagine the services industry.

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