IBM QRadar Advisor with Watson: Revolutionizing the Way Security Analysts Work


Growing up, science fiction shows and movies fascinated me with their speculations about amazing technologies the future might bring. A common element of many of these stories was an intelligent system – depicted as a robot, a computer or a droid – and they were there to complement the mission.

Today, I get to play a part in bringing to life technologies that yesterday we could only imagine. We at IBM Security are introducing the first cognitive solution for cybersecurity.

Before we jump into that, however, let’s talk about what a cognitive system is.

What Is a Cognitive System?

First and foremost, a cognitive system should be able to reason. Given a set of observations, it should formulate a hypothesis, consult information that can help validate or refute the hypothesis and derive a conclusion based on evidence.

To reason, a cognitive system must understand information analysts feed it. It should be able to derive associations between entities and topics and deduce behaviors beyond the input data it maintains. It also has to continuously learn from new information, experience and feedback. Last but not least, a cognitive system needs to deliver its insights in way that is natural to us humans, such as through spoken word, speech or visuals.

Cognitive computing has the potential to open up a world of possibilities, especially in cybersecurity. Historically, whenever we reach the limits of manual activity, we turn to technology. Now more than ever, security teams need systems that can complement their cybersecurity missions.

Introducing IBM QRadar Advisor with Watson

We all know about the growing number of threats, the increased sophistication of those threats and the damage they can inflict upon an organization’s brand reputation, business operations and financial success. Enterprises face gaps in intelligence, accuracy and time. They need current, trustworthy and actionable information — not only from their own security infrastructure, but also from external sources. They also need to supplement their decision-making to gain greater confidence in their assessments of security incidents. Finally, IT teams must improve their responsiveness to cybersecurity risks.

IBM is delivering a platform that brings cognitive technologies into the security operations center (SOC). These tools enhance analysts’ ability to fill gaps in intelligence and act with speed and accuracy. In fact, the IBM Cognitive SOC platform is the industry’s only security operations and response platform integrating advanced cognitive technologies with the ability to respond across the cloud, networks, endpoints and users.

The centerpiece of IBM’s new Cognitive SOC platform is QRadar Advisor with Watson. This solution is the first to apply the power of Watson for Cyber Security. Watson maintains a specialized corpus of security knowledge, which includes threat intelligence feeds and previously invisible unstructured data in the form of blogs, websites and more. Most impressively, Watson derives new knowledge and discovers hidden relationships in the information it consumes.

QRadar Advisorwith Watson combines the analytical prowess of IBM QRadar, the cognitive capabilities of Watson for Cyber Security and real-time learning capabilities to automatically investigate and qualify security incidents and advise analysts on the nature and extent of an incident. The goal is to empower security analysts to uncover hidden threats and deliver actionable insights so that they can respond to threats at unprecedented speed and scale.

How QRadar Advisor with Watson Works

QRadar Advisor with Watson works in three steps, as illustrated below:


  1. When the QRadar Security Intelligence platform detects a security incident, an analyst can assign it to QRadar Advisor with Watson for investigation. The advisor first gathers greater context about that incident by mining local data available in QRadar. It then consults with Watson for Cyber Security to perform external knowledge and threat discovery on discrete observations related to the incident.
  2. Watson for Cyber Security explores its knowledge base — gathered from hundreds of thousands of sources in the form of websites, security forums, bulletins and more — to build its understanding of the security incident. Then, it uses reasoning to discover additional insights and other threat entities related to the original incident, such as malicious files, suspicious IP addresses, rogue entities and the relationships between them.
  3. QRadar Advisor with Watson then refines the information it receives from Watson for Cyber Security to zero in on the key insights relevant to the incident at hand.

An analyst can then perform further actions based on the insights presented by QRadar Advisor with Watson and send the incident information, along with supporting evidence, to the response team.

More Than a Feeling

If you are a “Star Trek” fan, you may recall Captain Kirk’s remark to Mr. Spock: “Sometimes a feeling is all we humans have to go on.”

For security professionals whose responsibilities include keeping endpoints and data safe, however, a feeling alone is insufficient. The power of Watson augments analysts’ ability to act on threats with confidence and speed, revolutionizing the way they work.

Welcome to the cognitive world!

5 / 5 stars