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Boosting cyber security in government systems with analytics-based cognitive computing

Technology Writer

The new world of cloud computing, mobile applications and the Internet of Things has opened up possibilities for sophisticated cyberattacks that come from virtually anywhere. To counter these attacks and improve cyber security operations, the government must understand the mindset of attackers. Luckily, cognitive computing tools can provide security teams with the insights they need to stay one step ahead of hackers.

Overcoming data challenges

The vast amounts of data flowing through government systems contain valuable information about attackers, but this data must be analyzed in the right way if security teams want to identify meaningful patterns and better understand attackers' schemes.

This task is easier said than done, however. Government agencies often run into time and resource limitations. Further, data generated through these networks does not come in one tidy format: A report by the International Data Corporation estimates 90 percent of all data is unstructured. To overcome these challenges and understand the processes of hackers, governments need advanced technology that can analyze data in different formats in the shortest possible time.

Understanding hackers' processes

Cognitive computing is one solution that's particularly appealing to government agencies, because it combines data analytics and machine learning to provide greater insights into the minds of attackers. Cognitive computing is often seen as a step below artificial intelligence and a step above machine learning because it expands human cognition and learns from users by interacting with them. This type of system can learn to think like attackers. Then, it identifies their modus operandi and acts quickly to protect the government network.

Further, these systems are capable of collaborating with external databases and systems to gather more pertinent data. Such collaboration is essential; a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime shows 80 percent of hackers are working together to share data, tools and expertise, so the nature of their attacks tends to be highly advanced. When information from various unstructured and structured data sources is integrated and analyzed by cognitive systems, a clear picture of the attackers emerges and appropriate cyber security strategies can be formulated.

Adding brain power to cognitive computing

The power of cognitive computing systems is further enhanced when it works in tandem with human intelligence, according to Information Age. Cognitive computing can never completely replace the value of security experts, because humans have qualities, such as common sense, that cannot be replicated. However, the insights from the latest technologies can certainly help security teams make faster, more informed decisions.

Cognitive computing helps humans by providing pertinent information to augment the decision-making process. This combination of human and machine intelligence has led to a new generation of security systems that have potential to strengthen cyber defense operations by reducing the time between hacker infiltration and security response. At the same time, this partnership enables intelligent threat detection, which reduces costs associated with false positives.

Information Week explains security analytics company SparkCognition is offering these types of solutions to customers who want to improve their cyber defense operations. The company's software analyzes huge amounts of network data, much more than a human could sort through, and maps the company's IT landscape. This map provides security personnel with a better picture of any potential problems, allowing team members to act in a more informed manner.

In short, cyber defense operations are no longer about firewalls and anti-malware software. Instead, they're about real-time behavioral analysis of attackers and spotting network abnormalities as soon as they happen. This type of next-generation system based on cognitive computing is sure to give government agencies a boost as they continue to fend off dangerous attacks from sophisticated hackers.

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