Reading Time: 4 minutes
Darktrace autonomous AI-system finds out about any digital threats, before they get severe.
Information leaks happen almost every day in the Internet. Meanwhile most of the engineers try to find a way to prevent hackers from getting into the digital systems, some of them noticed that it might be better to do it the other way around. In 2013 with that idea in mind, Darktrace has been created.
A group of former MI5 agents joined forces with Cambridge mathematicians with a mission in mind to develop a new tool to fight cyber-attacks. Interestingly enough, they decided to use AI to make that happen. As their philosophy states ‘Pit the machines against the machines to keep your data safe.‘.
So how does it really work and why is it effective? Frankly, it is quite simple. Darktrace connects their software with company’s system. From that moment, the AI starts monitoring all the activities that occur within the digital infrastructure. Furthermore, it is learning how does the company operate.
Well, you may now ask yourself a question why is it all for? With all of the data accumulated, Dartktrace’s software can now easily detect any instances of unusual activities or deviations. This is called unsupervised learning, a very rare type of machine learning, that doesn’t require any information from us humans, to know what to look for. This really revolutionized the market, because before that we used supervised learning, which is quite the opposite. In that case we had to provide data to the AI in order to allow it to learn about the threats and problems that may occur. Although it works fine in most of the cases, it has its flaws too. The main problem is that it is useless when unknown threats appear. That’s where Darktrace has the advantage.
Darktrace software here just neutralized an anomalous, dangerous behaviour
For example, in 2017 the software was introduced to one of the Las Vegas casinos. Although the company states, that their AI usually is not really useful within first days of working due to its learning process taking at least a week, just after its start, it registered some unusual activities. It turned out, that their recently installed fish tank, which had electronic sensors connected to the servicing company, had transferred over 10GB of data to an external device, which did not belong to the company. After some digging they have found the hacker all the way in Finland.
As Dawn Song, a cybersecurity and machine-learning expert at the University of California, Berkeley stated “the whole system is as secure as its weakest link” and that is the great example of that.
An example of how Darktrace interface looks like.
What also accumulates to their superiority over the market is the accessibility. Their software is really easy to use and to see through. They also provide consultations, if anyone from the IT department encounters any problems with the software. Although co-chief executive Poppy Gustafsson said that they do not want to focus on that part of service “We don’t do consulting” she said “Our tech is not just about detecting cyber threat but also to autonomously respond.”.
Also interesting is the fact that the whole idea was inspired by human body. In one of the interviews, the co-CEO of the company, Nicole Eagan said “It’s very much like the human body’s own immune system,” and moreover “As complex as it is, it has this innate sense of what’s self and not self. And when it finds something that doesn’t belong—that’s not self—it has an extremely precise and rapid response.”
This start-up has been performing incredibly ever since it was created. In March 2015 they were evaluated at 80M dollars. Only three years later in September 2018 they are valued at over 1,65 billion dollars. This rapid growth is was mainly accelerated by Mike Lynch and his Venture Fund, Invoke Capital. He owns right now over 40% of the company making him the shareholder with the highest ownership.
Although right now it may seem for you, as if this is a perfect software and solution to cyber-crime, it has its flaws too. Some IT workers had reported that this AI-based system, continuously reports multiple deviations throughout the day, to the point when they had to stop checking the alerts, just because it was a waste of their time. Furthermore, Darktrace’s plans for their customer are not cheap at all, which can make them less desirable.
Frankly, I would say that even though it will help bigger companies to eliminate some threats, especially from the inside, it is nowhere near the perfect solution yet.
What do you think about this start-up? Are AI-based systems the solution to our problem with cyber-crime? Let me know in the comments.
- Leslie, I. (2018, June 15). You used to build a wall to keep them out, but now hackers are destroying you from the inside.
- Ram, A. (2018, October 10). Inside Darktrace, the UK’s $1.65bn cyber security start-up.
- null. (null). Cyber-Security SEIM | IDS. https://msp-partner.com/darktrace/
- Clifford, A. (2018, August 7). How billion-dollar start-up Darktrace is fighting cybercrime with A.I. .
- Hao, K. (2018, November 16). The rare form of machine learning that can spot hackers who have already broken in.
- Darktrace. (null). Company Overview. https://www.darktrace.com/en/overview/