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IBM cognitive assistant to help manage and secure devices

IBM has announced a cognitive assistant powered by IBM Watson to help businesses manage and secure endpoints, including devices making up the internet of things

IBM has announced a cognitive assistant that uses its cognitive computing platform IBM Watson to help IT professionals to manage and secure business computing devices.

The MaaS360 Advisor uses machine learning to analyse devices on the network, and recommend policies, patches and customised best practices to improve the management and security of networks of smartphones, laptops, tablets, internet of things (IoT) devices and other endpoint devices.

The cognitive assistant is part of the IBM MaaS360 unified endpoint management (UEM) platform and is aimed at addressing the challenge of managing device sprawl across businesses.

“There is enormous potential in unified endpoint management when you incorporate cognitive technology like Watson into MaaS360,” said Brian Jacome, senior product manager of enterprise mobility at the Royal Bank of Canada.

“With this capability, we are able to get an in-depth feel of our device landscape instantly helping us make decisions faster regarding where we need to evolve the platform,” he said.

With 49% of information workers using at least three devices for work on a weekly basis, technology and security teams struggle to keep devices compliant and secure, according to a mobility workforce study by Forrester Research.

The adoption of a centralised management approach delivered via UEM platforms will increase from just 15% of organisations today to 54% by 2020, according to the IBM Security Mobile Vision 2020 study by Forrester.

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The study revealed that while 91% of organisations report an increase in endpoint data over the past two years, these endpoints are often managed by multiple consoles and teams.

This data could provide valuable insights for business efficiency, but the study found that most organisations are challenged by the difficulty of collecting information and distributing software across complex enterprise environments.

The lack of cross-device visibility leads to duplication of efforts, gaps in security, and negatively impacts user experience, the study said.

With organisations under pressure to reduce the total cost of ownership for the proliferation of devices in the enterprise, the study found that 83% are addressing the problem by breaking down departmental silos with a centralised management team.

Implementing AI computing

Furthermore, more than 80% of organisations plan to implement artificial intelligence (AI), or cognitive, computing by 2020 to analyse the vast and growing volume of endpoint data they collect.

IBM is training Watson on concepts such as device enrollment, identity management, and regulatory compliance to refine its ability to analyse thousands of documents for relevant insights. 

Watson will correlate other sources including data from the IBM X-Force Exchange on active threats like zero day vulnerabilities and malware to help protect devices from these threats.

IBM said actionable insights from the recently announced Mobile Metrics benchmarking tool will also give IT and security leaders further access to context-driven best practices specifically recommended for their environments.

Managing a variety of endpoints

The cognitive assistant is designed to give IT professionals the ability to manage a wide variety of endpoints, including devices that make up the IoT and their device gateways, which provide access to data for IoT devices.

As a result, IBM said IT managers can set policies on what IoT data can be accessed by devices in their organisation for greater security. IBM MaaS360 UEM plaform supports many IoT-based devices today and will continue expanding its capabilities in 2017, IBM said.

“Our investments in bringing Watson to MaaS360 are a major springboard into the UEM space for IBM Security,” said Jim Brennan, director of strategy and offering management, IBM Security.

“Enterprise administrators are responsible for digesting an incredible amount of data, including security vulnerabilities, privacy regulations, multiple OS and device updates, and compliance requirements.

“Through MaaS360 with Watson, we’re not only able to streamline and sharpen the data so administrators can stay ahead of the curve, but also transform the way they interact with their environment,” he said.

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