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Monday, 22 October 2018 04:32

Threat intelligence and AI work better together

By
McAfee senior vice-president and CTO Steve Grobman McAfee senior vice-president and CTO Steve Grobman

Humans and AI working in tandem can do better at spotting threats than either can alone, according to a McAfee executive.

McAfee has been investing in AI as a way of augmenting its threat intelligence activities, said senior vice-president and chief technology officer Steve Grobman, and has found that combining human analysts and AI amplifies their effectiveness.

Traditional threat intelligence gives very few false positives (good code misidentified as malware) but there are some false negatives (undetected malware). AI working alone gives fewer false negatives (less malware is missed) at the cost of a higher rate of false positives.

Combining the two approaches results in close to 100% malware detection with minimal false positives, he said.

McAfee has one billion sensors in the field, about half of them consumer PCs running the company's software. The advantage of the latter group is that they largely operate in the "wild west" of the Internet because nobody is telling their users to steer clear of known bad places.

These sensors generate 116 million telemetry events every five minutes. But "data by itself is not actionable", said Grobman. "What you really need is insight."

The company's global view of threat activity means it can provide insights that can help customers focus on the things that need particular attention at that time, such an ensuring that specific patches have been applied, or checking for certain types of misconfiguration.

It could also identify active campaigns targeting particular geographies or industry sectors so that affected customers could be alerted, he said.

The writer attended McAfee's Mpower Cyberecurity Summit as a guest of the company.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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