Microsoft uses AI, ML to empower cyber attack defenders

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New Delhi:  As governments the world over deliberate over how to tackle growing nation-state cyber attacks and protect sensitive data, a top Microsoft official said Tuesday that collaborations between the governments, tech companies and third-party cybersecurity agencies can help address the growing menace.

According to Rob Lefferts, CVP-Program Management M365 Security at Microsoft, the company takes nation-state cyber attacks very seriously.

“We have a whole research team dedicated to understand the behaviour of nation-state attacks. We partner with governments around the globe to help protect citizens against such attacks,” Lefferts told IANS during an interaction.

Microsoft spends over $1 billion annually on cybersecurity and uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in a big way to gain accurate insights and faster automated response to real-time threats.

“We are using AI and ML as a tool to empower defenders and to more effectively protect organizations. When we talk to companies in India, 92 per cent of organisations have either already adopted or looking to adopt AI in their approach towards cybersecurity,” said Lefferts.

For Microsoft, it is a strategic investment for the company.

“We took a very, very strong approach over six years ago around investing over $1billion a year in research and development of security technologies. The goal is to help us better protect, detect and respond to real-world threats in today’s environment,” stressed the Microsoft executive.

The company deploys a number of sensors that are looking for information from cyber incidents around the world — sort of metadata about what’s going on — whether it’s from PCs, servers or in the Cloud.

“We do not collect actual content but metadata of behaviours. We collect more than 8 trillion of those signals every day. And then, we use those models to better protect organisations,” informed Lefferts.

“Every day, 3,500 Microsoft security professionals track threats and provide better enforcement protection for our customers,” he added.

According to him, Microsoft learns from its customers and actual users.

“What’s exciting is the ability to turn that information around at incredible speed to protect customers. Since we’re using Cloud-powered technologies, those updates and new protections come to customers almost instantaneously. In fact, in many cases, we use behavioural analytics to detect problems before they’re even problems,” Lefferts told IANS.

Collaboration is very critical in the cybersecurity space.

“One is collaboration across the security industry. Then there is collaboration around actual incidents and problems as they occur. This is a place where it’s not just a matter of machines; we need machines to empower humans,” he noted.

In 2018, top 34 global technology and securities firms, led by Microsoft and Facebook, signed a “Cybersecurity Tech Accord” to defend people from malicious attacks by cybercriminals and nation-states.

The 34 companies include Cisco, HP, Nokia, Oracle, VMware, Dell, CA Technologies, Symantec, Bitdefender, F-Secure, RSA and Trend Micro, among others.

“This tech sector accord will help us take a principled path towards more effective steps to work together and defend customers around the world,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith.

(IANS)

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