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IBM Watson’s next target? Hunting down the hackers

The sixth installment in the Cognitive Insight series highlights how IBM Watson is being trained to take on the cybercriminals

The world is going through a cybersecurity pandemic. No day passes without a hack or data theft being carried out, discovered, or begrudgingly announced. High-profile victims abound – from the PlayStation Network, hacked in 2011, to Dropbox’s 2012 breach, to the 500-million-user data theft Yahoo! suffered in 2014, two years before going public about the hack.

Those carrying out the attacks have honed their craft to create ever more sophisticated hacking tools. According to a recent study by security consultancy Juniper Research, cybercrime is expected to balloon into a $2.1 trillion (£1.7 trillion) industry by 2019.

In these circumstances, companies tend to flounder in the face of newly minted hacks. It takes, on average, 229 days for a business to realise that damage has been done. That is often tragically too late for saving data, money, and reputations. Part of the problem has to do with a substantial labour shortage in the field of defence.

“Over the past few years, cybersecurity has been taken more and more seriously by company boards. This is now driving demand for security expertise,” says IBM vice president for the security business in UK and Ireland Carmina Lees. “Just a few years ago companies relied on small security teams of two or three people. Nowadays, those teams just cannot cope with the sophisticated attacks we are seeing.”


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