Symantec Acquisitions Further AI Strategy

Symantec this week moved this week to expand its portfolio of security offerings by acquiring Appthority and Javelin Networks as part of a larger artificial intelligence (AI) strategy being driven by a combination of internal organic research and development and inorganic acquisitions.

Sri Sundaralingam, head of product marketing for enterprise security products at Symantec, said the acquisitions of Appthority and Javelin Networks will advance an AI security strategy dubbed Integrated Cyber Defense Platform, which feeds data collected from various endpoints into a set of cloud-based security intelligence applications based on machine and deep learning algorithms.

Appthority is a provider of mobile application security analysis software, while Javelin Networks provides software that prevents cybercriminals from exploiting Microsoft Active Directory software to better target their attacks. Symantec intends to rebrand these offerings and incorporate them into a larger cybersecurity AI framework, Sundaralingam said.

The rise of AI is driving a wave of vendor consolidation across the IT security industry, he noted, as smaller IT security vendors discover they are not able to collect enough data on their own to drive AI models. Those vendors either will be acquired by larger companies that can collect enough data to drive those AI models or they will need to find a way to add value by participating in a larger ecosystem by taking advantage of open application programming interfaces (APIs) to share and access data, he said.

Signature and behavioral-based approaches to cybersecurity will no longer suffice, Sundaralingam said, noting the tactics and scale of the attacks being launched require a more real-time response that’s only possible when employing machine and deep learning algorithms.

In fact, the need to rely on AI to provide that level of response has made endpoint security more relevant than ever, he added. Not only are cybercriminals launching targeted attacks such as ransomware against endpoints, but the data collected by endpoint security tools as they combat those attacks informs the rest of cybersecurity frameworks on how to identify and respond better to that specific type of attack.

Sundaralingam said the IT security industry is still in the early to mid-stage of AI adoption. No one expects AI to replace the need for cybersecurity experts anytime soon. But given the shortage of cybersecurity expertise, there is a need to employ machines to augment the capabilities of cybersecurity personnel, who are already overtaxed. That’s especially critical as cybersecurity criminals employ machine and deep learning algorithms to further their own nefarious aims.

There may never be such a thing as perfect security. But the current state of security leaves much to desired. As the number of applications deployed by an organization increases, the risks associated with a cybersecurity breach exponentially increase. The only way to reduce those odds going forward is to rely more on AI to level a playing field that today tips in favor of the attacker.

Michael Vizard

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Michael Vizard

Michael Vizard

Mike Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist with over 25 years of experience. He also contributed to IT Business Edge, Channel Insider, Baseline and a variety of other IT titles. Previously, Vizard was the editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise as well as Editor-in-Chief for CRN and InfoWorld.

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