Startup mimics security analyst’s decision making, learns from humans

PatternEx says its Active Contextual Modeling is a form of artificial intelligence.

Startup PatternEx with roots in MIT’s artificial intelligence lab is launching a security platform it says employs artificial intelligence by learning from input it gets from human security analysts about data exfiltration and bank fraud incidents that it flags.

It monitors firewall logs and traffic in and out of the network and alerts customer analysts of suspicious traffic that might represent malware connecting to command and control servers or transferring data out of the network, says PatternEx CEO Uday Veeramachaneni, a co-founder of the company.

The AI engine is fed information about how the analyst responds to each notification and the algorithm running it incorporates that input into refining its predictive model of how the analyst will react. That way, over time, it sends fewer false positives, Veeramachaneni says.

As the company gains customers it will use feedback from across deployments of the PatternEx platform to improve the accuracy of the algorithm’s modeling.

The algorithm and its predictive models will be an improvement over what happens now, with analysts having to figure out what represents a breach and often figuring it out too late.

Eric Ogren, an analyst with 451 Group, says this type of machine learning can be useful to corporations having a tough time finding enough qualified analysts because they are in such high demand. He says Exabeam, Securonix and Red Owl among others are trying to address the same problem with User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA).

The company says its technology is different from machine learning/anomaly detection technology in that it doesn’t rely on rule sets and seeks to mimic analyst intuition. The company says its Active Contextual Modeling technology catches 10 times the threats with a fifth of the false positives.

The PatternEx algorithm uses input such as number of bytes sent and received, source and destination IP addresses, duration of connections, intervals between connections and other factors in its calculations. If the algorithm comes up with a model that makes 10 predictions that an analyst will find flagged activity to be a botnet but is wrong on four of them, it will create a new model, Veeramachaneni says.

Data is gathered by lightweight agents on individual machines and the data is collected and analyzed on a server that can be in PatternEx’s cloud or on customers’ premises. The technology can sit alongside security information and event management devices as an add-on.

Over time the company expects to be able to detect more categories of attacks. Tapping Active Directory data and storage repositories where valuable data sits are two possibilities, he says.

He says he’d like to turn the engine loose on Web applications to seek odd behavior by them.

The company is formally launching today and the product is available tomorrow. Pricing is based on the volume of data the analysis engine processes and the type of predictions it is making. At launch, the platform can predict exfiltrations and Web fraud.

The 2-year-old company is backed by $2 million in seed money and is based in San Jose. It has six customers in late-stage trials, five of them Fortune 500 companies, Veeramachaneni says.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

More about MIT

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Tim Greene

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts