IBM Watson's latest challenge: cybersecurity

A new initiative will see the platform processing up to 15,000 threat intelligence and other security documents each month, and offering insights on emerging threats – and how to stop them.
By Jessica Davis
09:37 AM

IBM plans to launch a cloud-based version of Watson's cognitive computing technology, designed solely to zero in on cybersecurity language, as a part of a year-long research project, the company announced Tuesday.

The Watson for Cyber Security platform is touted as the first technology to offer cognition of security data. Watson will pull the majority of its cognitive data from the X-Force research library: a threat intelligence platform with 20 years of security research, details on 8 million spam and phishing attacks and more than 100,000 documented vulnerabilities.

"Even if the industry was able to fill the estimated 1.5 million open cybersecurity jobs by 2020, we'd still have a skills crisis in security," Marc van Zadelhoff, general manager of IBM Security said in a statement. "The volume and velocity of data in security is one of our greatest challenges in dealing with cybercrime."

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[Also: IBM Watson offers free storage to Apple ResearchKit developers]

Beginning in the fall, IBM will also collaborate with eight universities to expand the amount of security data the company has already inputted into the platform. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; Pennsylvania State University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and New York University are among the institutions who will work with IBM to contribute to Watson's training.

The students will also train Watson on cybersecurity language, while working close with IBM's security experts to learn how to read security intelligence to gain first-hand experience in cognitive security.

IBM plans to process up to 15,000 security documents – threat intelligence reports, cybercrime strategies, threat databases – each month over the next training stages in collaboration will all stakeholders.

Watson for Cybersecurity will not only provide insights on any emerging threats, it will also make recommendations on how to stop them. Additionally, the system will use data mining techniques to find outliers. IBM will begin beta production deployments later this year.

"By leveraging Watson’s ability to bring context to staggering amounts of unstructured data, impossible for people alone to process, we will bring new insights, recommendations and knowledge to security professionals," said van Zadelhoff, "bringing greater speed and precision to the most advanced cybersecurity analysts, and providing novice analysts with on-the-job training."

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