Business

Belfast technology firm Intelligent Environments a step ahead of the hackers

Cybercrime is being tackled in a new collaboration between Intelligent Environments and Queen's University
Gail Bell

THE rising threat of cyber crime is being tackled at source through a new partnership between financial technology firm Intelligent Environments and Queen's University in Belfast.

In a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), a graduate from the university will join Intelligent Environment's Belfast office to help develop the world's first 'attack-aware' security software proposition called 'Interact AppSensorFS'.

It involves innovative use of 'machine learning' to recognise when a hacker is entering - or already inside - a banking system.

The collaboration, part of the KTP programme which embeds the latest academic research within leading businesses, has been prompted by an unprecedented volume of security incidents in the financial industry.

But despite the high level threat - according to a recent PWC report, security breaches rose to 90 per cent in 2015 - the chief technology officer with Intelligent Environments said no European retail bank had attack-aware security which automatically detects and responds to intrusions.

"While most bank branches have sensors inside the building as well as on the door, that's not the standard for financial services technology," Clayton Locke said.

"The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen's Global Research Institute and Intelligent Environments' collaboration aims to put an end to this through the Interact AppSensorFS proposition which uses a state-of-the-art detection approach."

Mr Locke said machine learning - a form of artificial intelligence - would be used to model user behaviour, teaching Interact AppSensorFS to recognise when a hacker is entering or is in a bank's system.

"Interact AppSensorFS connects remote sensing detectors together into a common security console, helping to monitor the overall security risk and will activate alarms if defensive action is required," he explained.

"By not being attack-aware, traditional security measures are like putting a lock on the door after the burglar is already inside the building.

"Now, for the first time, banks can deploy security that responds from inside applications that are self-defending."

The recruitment process for the position of KTP manager is currently under way and applications are welcome from suitably qualified graduates.

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