Cognitive Analytics: 21st Century Threat Detection

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James PitaIn this special guest feature, James Pita, PhD, Armorway’s Co-Founder and Chief Evangelist, discusses cognitive analytics and its use for threat detection and deterrence. James is Chief Evangelist and Co-Founder of Armorway. Armorway was founded in 2013 and develops products that bridge the gap between data and decisions. The core technology was developed with grants from the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense and the US Army Research Office.

Big data analytics are quickly becoming part of the business lexicon. Companies are scrambling to leverage as much data as they can to get answers to questions regarding possible security threats, with many organizations leaning toward a predictive analytical approach to forecasting threats. Yet focusing solely on current problems often neglects what new problems might be created concurrently.  For example, imagine a tool is invented that perfectly predicts future traffic patterns on the highway.  Superficially, this is a wonderful tool.  However, imagine every motorist throughout the world now has access to this tool and studies the same route information the night before.  When tomorrow arrives, everyone will try to avoid the predicted traffic, and in doing so, create new and unanticipated issues on the highway during times that were supposed to be traffic-free.

Basing future decisions of where and how to deploy resources off predictive data doesn’t accommodate for the action-reaction dynamics of competition nor the protracted effects of such choices. Situations are full of dynamic, moving pieces and free-flowing interactions.  When your organization changes, your objectives may change.  Or both your organization and objectives may change, completely independent of one another.  Most importantly, threats change.  Threats adapt to choices you make and become more creative, more organized in implementing new tactics in an effort to outperform you.  To beat intelligent threats, you need to understand the repercussions of the decisions you make to remain proactive in an evolving world.  This is why cognitive analytics is instrumental in an organization’s threat deterrence strategy.

Cognitive analytics should incorporate the fields of predictive, behavioral, and competitive analytics into understanding how decision-making directly influences possible outcomes.  Predictive analytics is pure analytics, the variety of statistical techniques, including modeling, machine learning, and data mining, that analyze current and historical facts to make predictions about future or otherwise unknown events. Behavioral analytics is an understanding of how and why threats adapt in your environment, i.e. a comprehensive depiction of motivations, capabilities, and tactics so you can better understand how your own actions motivate others’ actions. Competitive analytics examines the multitude of variables that affect the choices a security organization makes and how threats will respond to these decisions. By identifying all relevant offensive and defensive variables, you can build out a strategic framework, driving your tactics to motivate actors in ways favorable to your aims.

When you compete against an adversary, you craft a defender strategy, knowing inherently your adversary will respond to your strategy in an effort to overcome you. What cognitive analytics provides is the ability to understand the future outcomes you are likely to face based on the decisions you make today. This allows you to actually drive your adversary’s actions towards positive results (e.g. higher crime deterrence rates) you have specifically designed for, without your adversary even knowing he is being manipulated.

Cognitive analytics is a more forward-thinking approach to threat detection and deterrence. Foreseeing two, three steps beyond your initial choice, and the ramifications of that decision, allows you to transition from retroactively using data to develop insights to an organization proactive in understanding both insights and influence.  The combination of behavioral, predictive, and competitive analytics allows your organization to fully understand how each decision you make alters the environment, and, conversely, allows you to find the decisions that best prevent the most threats.


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