Cybersecurity threats are growing in both volume and sophistication. This issue is compounded by a growing shortage of security professionals, expected to reach 1.5 million unfilled positions by 2020. With the ACCL, IBM and UMBC will explore new ways to apply cognitive technologies - which are able to digest, learn from, and reason over vast amounts of structured and unstructured data - to help cybersecurity professionals gain an advantage in the battle against cybercrime.
"There is a massive amount of security data that exists for human consumption, which cannot be processed by traditional security systems", stated J.R. Rao, Director, Security Research, IBM. "By exploring the intersection of cybersecurity and cognitive technology, we can leverage that untapped pool of data and evolve the way security professionals and technologies work together to help overcome cyber threats."
The ACCL will be headed by Anupam Joshi, director of UMBC's Center for Cybersecurity and chair of computer science and electrical engineering at UMBC. He will be joined by a team of faculty members, graduate and undergraduate students, and software engineers, who will bring together strong expertise in cognitive computing, accelerated and high performance computing, and cybersecurity. UMBC researchers will collaborate with IBM scientists to push the frontiers of research and develop innovative technology that will be able to, with a human analyst in the loop, detect, analyze and mitigate sophisticated threats quickly.
"UMBC faculty, and students in the College of Engineering and Information Technology are excited to expand our work on global scientific and cybersecurity challenges in collaboration with world class partners like IBM", stated Julie Ross, dean of the UMBC's College of Engineering and Information Technology.
The ACCL research will be conducted on IBM and OpenPOWER technology. The IBM Power Systems being implemented in the ACCL at UMBC are infused with acceleration technology from the OpenPOWER Foundation, making them ideally suited for cognitive and advanced analytics workloads, critical to the cyber security work the researchers will be conducting. In addition, researchers will receive technical development and support from IBM Systems Group.
This collaboration is part of IBM's ongoing academic initiatives that help students develop skills and understanding of cognitive computing to meet the increasing demand for high-skilled technology professionals. UMBC is one of eight leading universities in North America working to train IBM's Watson for application in the cybersecurity space. Watson uses natural language processing to understand the vague and imprecise nature of human language in unstructured data. It can provide insights into emerging threats, as well as recommendations on how to stop them, increasing the speed and capabilities of security professionals.