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Posted on August 8, 2017 by in Data Breach & Technology, Personal

When researchers set out to find new ways to cure various types of cancer, they discovered and developed immunotherapy. The basic idea of immunotherapy is that it harnesses the human body’s natural immune system and rewires it to fight off cancer. Now, a firm in the U.K., Darktrace, has created a different technology-based version of immunotherapy to fight off another kind of “cancer”—hackers and other cyber threats that will invade any database they can find.

Sadly, it’s not enough anymore for businesses to invest in anti-virus software and firewalls. Hackers are becoming more and more tech-savvy and are constantly searching for ways to sneak into corporate systems, find what they’re looking for, and get out completely undetected. This is scary for not just businesses, but consumers—we trust the companies we purchase goods and services from and have to hope they’re doing everything they can to keep our personal information protected.  That is why Darktrace has created a new artificial intelligence system called Antigena.

“The philosophy of our entire portfolio, or our approach, is largely based on this DNA: human immune system,” Sanjay Aurora, managing director for Asia Pacific at Darktrace, told CNBC. “How have human beings, for millions of years, thrived and survived? (It) is because of our immune system. Almost every day, we’re hit by unknown unknowns, which is the way organizations are also hit…in terms of viruses and malware.”

Antigena uses machine learning to stay on alert for any behavior that seems out of the ordinary. Once it is installed, the system starts learning the behaviors of each user. After a month, it gains about 80 percent of its intelligence, and reaches peak performance and understanding at around the one year mark. If a cyber threat is identified, the system attempts to neutralize it by slowing down or stopping compromised connections and/or devices. This early intervention serves to alert internal security teams of a problem—possibly months before they ever would have discovered it—and give them a chance to catch up.

For example, during a trial of Antigena, one U.K. company trying the system out was alerted to a threat coming from the inside. An employee who was angry about the employer’s strategy for dealing with Brexit tried to steal confidential documents and leak them—but Antigena caught the problem immediately and blocked the documents from leaving the organization. This certainly helped the company immensely, but it also may have protected any private customer information that was included in those documents.

Antigena isn’t meant to be a company’s only line of defense and isn’t seeking to put humans out of the job. In fact, it also has a “human confidence mode” if companies prefer to have employees more actively involved in evaluating threats. In this mode, the system has to get human approval before it takes action and also shows an animation that explains how the attack was discovered and the algorithm’s “thought” process.

This kind of artificial intelligence is very new and it still remains to be seen if it becomes a normal part of corporate cybersecurity. It is certainly, however, a seemingly positive step in the right direction to reduce the amount of data breaches and to keep private information under wraps.

It’s important to remember, though, that there are so many companies and organizations out there who have your personal data on file—data you wouldn’t want a thief getting ahold of. In today’s digital world, you shouldn’t just be relying solely on these businesses to protect your information. Take control of your identity and become an IdentityForce member. We will monitor your identity 24/7, alert you if it’s compromised, and back it up with a $1 million identity theft insurance policy.