IBM Watson: The new protector of the White House?

By Kitty Knowles 14 February 2017
Independence Day. Pic: 20th Century Fox

Way better than Will Smith.

The White House doesn’t fair so well in pop culture.

The protagonists of Olympus Has Fallen, White House Down and (the ever classic) Independence Day, never quite managed to stop the presidential palace from going up in smoke.

Now though, there’s a valiant new guardian of liberty in town. And no, they’re not human.

IBM Watson defender of data

Today the biggest threat to the White House doesn’t come from aliens, it doesn’t even come from foreign military.

The biggest threat to US security today, comes from hackers.

The risks are so pressing that last year, the White House published a formal request for information on the potential of AI security.

IBM took the suggestion and ran with it.

Now, after a year of training, Watson for Cyber Security, is ready to protect and serve.

But who will it help and how?

Prepared for the job

AI supercomputer IBM Watson has learned the language of cybersecurity, by processing over 1m security documents.

According to IBM research, security teams sift through more than 200,000 security events per day on average, leading to over 20,000 hours per year wasted chasing false positives.

But cognitive technologies like IBM Watson can help security analysts of all kinds keep up with the anticipated doubling of incidents over the next five years.

The new cyber security software was used by 50 of IBM’s customers before its release, including companies in across financial services, healthcare, airlines and car manufacturers.

It’s now openly available in the company’s security app store for a free trial. We expect all governments to be intrigued.

Smart security is the future

Just 7% of security professionals are using cognitive tools today, but this is expected to triple over the next few years.

“Today’s sophisticated cybersecurity threats attack on multiple fronts and our security analysts face the difficult task of pinpointing these attacks amongst a massive sea of security-related data,” said Sean Valcamp, Chief Information Security Officer at Avnet (a company that already uses Watson Security).

“Watson makes concealment efforts more difficult by quickly analysing multiple streams of data [and] generates reports on these threats in a matter of minutes.”

As Britain celebrates the launch of National Cyber Security Centre, we can expect our own government, as well as the White House, to be drawing on tools similar to IBM Watson.

“Combining the unique abilities of man and machine intelligence will be critical to the next stage in the fight against advanced cybercrime,” said IBM Security VP Denis Kennelly.