New Tools To Detect Cyber Attacks

Digital systems have become critical in all areas of economic activity and Internet connectivity and an uninterrupted flow of information now underpin many businesses and the day-to-day functioning of societies.

Unfortunately, cyber crime has grown at the same rate and is consistent with technology change and development. 

Ransomware and malware, as well as cyber attacks, are a real threat to the systems of governments and local authorities, and the number of warnings regarding various attacks has increased in recent years. “Criminals are increasingly moving online because that is where the money is...  Cybertheft is becoming the fastest-growing crime in the world.” says Professor Kevin Curran of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and professor of cybersecurity at Ulster University. 

In Canada, the University of Waterloo have teamed up with Palitronica  and the Federal Government to develop a solution to protect government IT infrastructure.

In an effort to guard against cyber attacks and security leaks, researchers at the University of Waterloo have created new technology that monitors increased energy consumption, which will help protect governments, businesses and other organisations. Artificial intelligence (AI) software enables the technology to collect information with the assistance of hardware, so as to determine whether the use of electricity in the system conforms to known and expected patterns. “If suddenly, for instance, several machines exhibit a similar pattern of high-power usage in specific patterns, we would raise an alert that there might be spreading crypto-ransomware in the network,” said Sebastian Fischmeister, Professor of Computer Science  at the University of Waterloo.

Palitronica are now testing the technology, which is designed to complement, not replace, existing security controls such as network intrusion detection in several Ontario municipalities, with a dozen more interested in participating. 

When exceptional metrics are compiled, the artificial intelligence system sends an alert to the security officer in the organisation, warning that the organisation’s infrastructure could be under attack by hackers or software attempting to steal or lock precious data. In addition, when multiple machines show signs of increased power usage at the same time and in similar patterns, the suspicion increases that there might be crypto-ransomware distributed on the network.

A number of organisations in Ontario are taking part in testing the new technology, which is designed to complement existing control systems, such as network intrusion detection, and, eventually, will provide greater security for power-based systems.

In the last six years, the technology was developed in projects backed by several government agencies, including the Department of National Defence (DND), and industry partners in defence and critical infrastructure. “The ability, speed and accuracy of human triage activities of this unique Canadian technology show great promise to efficiently increase the safety and security of our Canadian Armed Forces,” said Eric Fournier, Director General Defence & Security at the DND.

University of Waterloo:     UTICA  University:     RAND:     I-HLS:     Economist:     Telegraph:  

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