Mar 15–18, 2020

What do machines say when nobody’s looking? Tracking IoT security with NLP

Donagh Horgan (Extreme Networks)
2:35pm3:15pm Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Location: 210 B

Who is this presentation for?

  • Security analysts, chief information security officers (CISOs), and network administrators




The time of NLP has come. Ever larger and more intricate language models provide previously unthinkable accuracy on hundreds of languages spoken around the world. But there are still “synthetic” languages.

Giacomo Bernardi outlines an unorthodox approach to NLP to dynamically model the “language” of IoT devices. The result is a lightweight system for behavioral modeling, which ingests network flow data and raises alerts about changes in the devices’ behavior in near-real time. The platform is currently in use at several organizations on crowds of IoT endpoints, improving their cybersecurity posture and helping them understand what kind of traffic is actually crossing their networks. You’ll gain insight into research in this novel field of “NLP for security,” such as the ingestion of raw packet data, privacy-preserving federated learning between customers to improve accuracy, and deploying AI-accelerated hardware at the corporate network edge.

Prerequisite knowledge

  • Familiarity with NLP
  • A basic understanding of simple matrix operations and properties of distributions (e.g., percentiles)

What you'll learn

  • Understand how modern language modeling techniques can be adapted to "synthetic" languages for a variety of purposes, including cybersecurity applications
  • Learn from the field experience of running NLP algorithms on networking data
  • Hear anecdotes from some large users
Photo of Donagh Horgan

Donagh Horgan

Extreme Networks

Donagh Horgan is a principal engineer at Extreme Networks where he designs data-driven solutions for smarter and more secure networks as part of the Cloud Technology Adoption Group. Previously, he has led and contributed to applied machine learning research at a number of Fortune 500 companies, with applications in the areas of converged physical security, asset microlocation and infrastructure performance monitoring. Donagh holds a BEng in Microelectronic Engineering and a PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from University College Cork, Ireland.

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