World-first A.I. to root out cyber-attacks

World-first A.I. to root out cyber-attacks
There's no question that network technology has forever changed the way we connect, do business and interact.

While we have developed networks that help make our lives easier, these same systems continue to become more complex, harder to interpret and in some cases, more prone to cyber security issues.

Through a landmark collaboration with The University of Queensland (UQ), business communications provider Comscentre is surging ahead and breaking new ground that promises to revolutionise network safety and efficiency.

By working in the fast-moving and complex space of artificial intelligence (A.I.), Comscentre is developing a solution that will make networks smarter, safer and more intelligent as the digital age continues to scale.

The goal is to use AI technology to detect malicious activity and prevent cyber-attacks from occurring, without any intervention from a human operator.

Comscentre and UQ are developing this cutting-edge tech that not only monitors and visualises networks, alerting human engineers about potential threats, but can also take care of those threats itself.

Essentially, the AI technology assists with anomaly detection while ensuring networks are always running at an optimal speed to support all business needs.

Dr Marius Portmann, associate professor at UQ and member of the research team working on the smart network alongside colleague associate professor Marcus Gallagher, says network engineers are extremely busy dealing with all sorts of problems.

"If you can take some of their load off by semi-automated systems, the AI can detect problems and maybe fix the problems at a basic level, so the engineers only really have to deal with the big problems," says Portmann.

"If we can support them by getting them the right data, the right information, and automating the basic responses then the networks will be more reliable, more efficient, and more secure."

Comscentre has already made serious strides into creating an artificially intelligent network management system.

Their first milestone was creating a revolutionary visualisation system which they refer to as the 'Dashboard.'

The Dashboard allows human network engineers to see incoming and outgoing traffic on the business network, providing insight into bandwidth usage and ensuring the system runs smoother.

While the visual component of the Dashboard is one thing, the application of the software is what really sets the tech apart in terms of optimisation and rooting out anomalies, according to Comscentre chief technology officer Geoff Tyerman.

"When we look at AI for the network we're initially talking about anomaly detection," says Tyerman.

"It looks for what is different with my network compared to what it was yesterday or what it was a month ago."

"It's very difficult for a human to determine what is normal in a network or not. Once AI has identified what's happening with your network you can decide to put a shaping policy in place to limit high traffic, so it doesn't impact business applications."

Tyerman says the AI technology will be able to help human operators identify hacking attempts by malicious operators that often go unnoticed.

"Often when there's some sort of malicious activity going on in your organisation you don't actually know it's happening," says Tyerman.

"For example, if suddenly you are connected to an IP address in China, but you've never been connected there before, it is difficult to determine whether someone in your office has visited a Chinese website or if it's actually malicious."

The exciting work being done by Comscentre and UQ is specifically innovating in the world of SD-WAN, but Portmann says the application of this tech could even cover complicated and unconventional networks that include vulnerable internet of things (IoT) objects like smart lightbulbs and Wi-Fi connected toasters.

The work being done by Comscentre is revolutionary in the industry space. As one of the first companies to undertake this kind of ground-breaking research, Comscentre is miles ahead of its competitors, according to Tyerman.

"Once properly implemented, the AI-assisted networks will make everyone's lives a whole lot faster, simpler, and safer," he says.

Click here to find out more about Comscentre and how its solutions can support and scale your business into the future.

This article has been written in partnership with Comscentre.

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