IBM, FAA plot course for real-time network analytics

Big Blue takes on research project to spot cyberattacks before they happen

IBM Corp. and the Federal Aviation Administration have launched a research project to prove the feasibility of large-scale, real-time analytics of network traffic.

The idea, according to Dave McQueeny, IBM Federal's chief technology officer, is to detect cyberattacks at their very beginnings before they become a full-blown attack.

He equated with a human body infected with a virus. A person can walk around for several days after exposure before exhibiting symptoms. But if you could detect and treat that exposure before problems occur, the health benefits could be enormous, McQueeny said.

The same is true with hacking, botnets, malware and other forms of cyberattacks, he said.

IBM has been working on the streaming analytics technology as part of a Defense Department project, where the big question was whether it was even possible to do the real-time monitoring, he said.

The company also is using the technology as part of an Air Force project to build a cloud infrastructure for the service.

Streaming analytics relies on processing power, but more importantly it uses a different way of designing software so network traffic can be analyzed as it flies by, McQueeny said.

The analysis will not have any effect on network speeds, he said.

“If we can establish convincingly that we can do this, it’ll have enormous value to our customers,” he said.

The pilot project is part of IBM’s First-of-a-Kind program, where the company’s research scientists work with clients to explore and pilot emerging technologies that address real-world problems, the company said.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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