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Q&A: The role of machine learning in cyber security

As you will no doubt have seen, a string of recent high-profile data breaches has thrust cyber security into the spotlight, thanks to a combination of skillful hackers, inadequate protection and human error.

We spoke to Garry Sidaway, SVP Security Strategy & Alliances at NTT Com Security, to discuss the role that machine learning can play in cyber security. The full interview can be found below.

How was your time at this year's IP EXPO?

We always find these events useful for meeting our strategic clients and partners. We find these types of events allow NTT Com Security to raise its brand awareness as well as reach a broad audience on the show floor and through speaking engagements.

Whilst there you spoke about Machine Learning (ML). What exactly is ML and how does it differ from Artificial Intelligence?

Machine learning is defined as a subset of artificial intelligence that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. In the context of information security and risk management, a highly advanced analysis engine based on machine learning can make it extremely difficult for hackers to by-pass detection, which means users can proactively mitigate risks from complex and emerging security threats.

How can it aid security?

For NTT Com Security, it makes it very difficult for cyber criminals to by-pass our advanced analytics engine. It also makes our expert managed security analysts far more efficient in the management of their workload.

NTT Com Security recently added ML into its Managed Security Services solution. How does this work?

By supervised “teaching” of the machine, we are able to accurately predict the use of command and control domain names. These command and control domains are used by cyber criminals to launch attacks against specific organisations such as that recently launched against Talk Talk and others.

Looking at the industry in general, where are companies going wrong when it comes to cyber security?

From NTT Com Security’s Global Threat Intelligence Report, we have found that companies still need to ensure that basic defences are in place and regularly assessed in order to protect their data. There is also clearly a skills shortage within the industry so leveraging a trusted partner such as NTT Com Security to provide managed security services helps put the risks in context.

Where do you see the security industry heading in the next 12 months?

We will see a greater focus on advanced analytics - looking for the needle in the haystack - and increased awareness that organisations need to reduce complexity and have greater visibility across their estate.

Image source: Shutterstock/Mopic