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Published on January 3rd, 2019 | by Emergent Enterprise

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Artificial Intelligence Vs. the Hackers

Machine-learning algorithms watch hackers’ behavior and adapt to their evolving tactics.

Last year, Microsoft Corp.’s Azure security team detected suspicious activity in the cloud computing usage of a large retailer: One of the company’s administrators, who usually logs on from New York, was trying to gain entry from Romania. And no, the admin wasn’t on vacation. A hacker had broken in.

Illustration by Benjamin Lemoine

Source: Dina Bass, bloomberg.com, January 3, 2019

Microsoft quickly alerted its customer, and the attack was foiled before the intruder got too far.

Chalk one up to a new generation of artificially intelligent software that adapts to hackers’ constantly evolving tactics. Microsoft, Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon.com Inc. and various startups are moving away from solely using older “rules-based” technology designed to respond to specific kinds of intrusion and deploying machine-learning algorithms that crunch massive amounts of data on logins, behavior and previous attacks to ferret out and stop hackers.
“Machine learning is a very powerful technique for security—it’s dynamic, while rules-based systems are very rigid,” says Dawn Song, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley’s Artificial Intelligence Research Lab. “It’s a very manual intensive process to change them, whereas machine learning is automated, dynamic and you can retrain it easily.”

 

Hackers are themselves famously adaptable, of course, so they too could harness machine learning to create fresh mischief and overwhelm the new defenses. For example, they could figure out how companies train their systems and use the data to evade or corrupt the algorithms. The big cloud services companies are painfully aware that the foe is a moving target but argue that the new technology will help tilt the balance in favor of the good guys.

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Emergent Enterprise

The Emergent Enterprise (EE) website brings together current and important news in enterprise mobility and the latest in innovative technologies in the business world. The articles are hand selected by Emergent Enterprise and not the result of automated electronic aggregating. The site is designed to be a one-stop shop for anyone who has an ongoing interest in how technology is changing how the world does business and how it affects the workforce from the shop floor to the top floor. EE encourages visitor contributions and participation through comments, social media activity and ratings.



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