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UMBC to help IBM’s Watson fight cybercrime

IBM's Watson computer trounced its carbon-based opponents during a special Jeopardy! match in 2011. (Photo from IBM).

IBM’s Watson computer trounced its carbon-based opponents during a special Jeopardy! match in 2011. (Photo from IBM).

The game is afoot!

Researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County are teaming up with IBM for a pair of cybersecurity research initiatives, including a project to train IBM’s Watson computer to detect cyber attacks.

Watson, no doubt still riding high after crushing Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings during a special appearance on that game show in 2011 and hobnobbing with Bob Dylan in a recent commercial, is an artificial intelligence which simulates the human thought process.

UMBC is one of eight universities — also including Pennsylvania State University and Massachusetts Institute of  Technology — that will spend a year providing Watson with data and annotated cybersecurity reports that should eventually allow the computer system to detect evidence of cyber attacks that other security measures might miss.

“Even if the industry was able to fill the estimated 1.5 million open cyber security jobs by 2020, we’d still have a skills crisis in security,” IBM Security General Manager Marc can Zadelhoff said in a statement. “By leveraging Watson’s ability to bring context to staggering amounts of unstructured data, impossible for people alone to process, we will bring new insights, recommendations and knowledge to security professionals.”

UMBC and IBM Research are also planning to launch a new Accelerated Cognitive Cybersecurity Laboratory, to be housed within the College of Engineering and Information Technology, later this year. Researchers at the lab will further explore ways to use cognitive computing technology to quickly identify and neutralize cybercrime.

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