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Microsoft's Steve Guggenheimer says its time to get started with AI

"It is too early to do everything with AI and too late to do nothing. Find a security area to work on where you think AI can help and get started,” says Microsoft's corporate VP of AI, Steve Guggenheimer.


Microsoft still in early stages of AI despite 20 years of research

“We are still in the early stages of AI. It seems like an odd thing to say considering that we have been working on it for decades, but the foundation of cloud computing, big data and algorithm advances are just getting started.

“At Microsoft we have been doing AI research for over 20 years across all key areas including computer vision, speech recognition and natural language processing. These advances make it possible to look at security end-to-end from identifying network anomalies to processing input from CCTV cameras.

“We use AI for network threat detection, securing Windows and the reliability of our networks.  We are also starting to take our learnings and make them available to customers via offerings for security that build on our AI work like our DDOS Protection.”

AI works best in a narrow context

"AI works best when it is assisting others. AI works today in a narrow context, but we don’t have the general AI that we see in science fiction. End-to-end security with AI will require tasks that are executed by AI and tasks where AI is assisting people."

Microsoft using AI in three ways

Microsoft uses AI in three ways says Guggenheimer.

"The most known one is the AI platform where we make many of our AI technologies available to developers to build on. Cognitive services and the bot framework are two examples of this.

“Infusing it into our products is the next thing. We have been infusing AI into products for decades and we are doing the right thing if users don’t know it is included but the products work better.

"Solutions are our third area where we are combining our AI and product development expertise to create custom solutions for customers. At the core of this strategy is Microsoft Research which has world class AI researchers and are working on the future innovations like quantum computing that will be the foundation for the future.”

Microsoft Azure Security Center launches beta AI

“Configuring servers to be secure while also being usable can be complicated because of how hard it is to create the right policy without a lot of management overhead.

“Preview technologies like Adaptive Application Controls in Azure Security Center uses machine learning (ML) to analyse your VMs, create a baseline for applications and make recommendations for policy rules.

“In this case ML assists the security team by recommending a security policy so the team could focus their efforts on adjusting the recommendation rather than trying to figure out how the VM is used and then creating the security policy."

Guggenheimer says AI is still being hyped up, but organisations need to start by taking the plunge in a single area.

“There is a lot of hype around AI and many people are uncertain how to get started. It is too early to do everything with AI and too late to do nothing. Find a security area to work on where you think AI can help and get started.”

Source: This blog is an extract from an interview which first appeared in SecurityBrief and in IT Brief on 5 April 2018.

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