IBM captured our imaginations when it unveiled Watson, the artificial intelligence computer capable of playing—and winning—the “Jeopardy” game show. Since then, Big Blue has been introducing across various industries, including health care and information security.

Cognitive security technology such as can change how information security professionals defend against attacks by helping them digest vast amounts of data. IBM Security is currently in the middle of a year-long research project working with eight universities to help train Watson to tackle cybercrime. Watson has to learn the “language of cybersecurity” to understand what a threat is, what it does, and what indicators are related.

“Generally we learn by examples,” says Nasir Memon, professor of computer science and engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. We get an algorithm and examples, and we learn when we are able to look at a problem and recognize it as similar to other incidents.

Information security is no stranger to machine learning. Many next-generation security defenses already incorporate machine learning, big data, and processing. What’s different with cognitive computing is the fact that it can blend human-generated security knowledge with more traditional security data. Consider how much security knowledge passes through the human brain and comes out in the form of research documents, industry publications, analyst reports, and blogs.

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