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TO Cisco Live 2023, the company event from June 4th to 8th, Cisco announced a series of generative AI innovations across its collaboration and security portfolios aimed at improving customer productivity and simplifying tasks through the power of large language models (LLMs).
Building on its recent investments in artificial intelligence and machine learning, Cisco unveiled its generative AI Policy Assistant, which enables security and IT administrators to define and implement detailed security policies across their security infrastructure.
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Cisco also introduced a Generative AI-driven Security Operations Center (SOC) Assistant that assists security analysts by providing comprehensive situational analysis, correlating intelligence across Cisco Security Cloud platform solutions, and offering actionable recommendations. By significantly reducing response times, the Assistant enables SOC teams to quickly address potential threats.
“The key difference between vendors offering Generative AI capabilities will boil down to the value of specific datasets that will be unique to an organization and the ability to do so while protecting an organization’s privacy and security,” Jeetu Patel, EVP and GM, security and collaboration at Cisco, VentureBeat said.
“The experience,” Patel added, “will be just as important because if it’s engaging, it will be much more worthwhile. Security interfaces that leverage natural language interfaces radically simplify the interaction paradigm.” Patel said Cisco’s new offerings will allow IT and security professionals to easily talk to systems and get advice without professional training, enabling security analysts to work faster and more effectively.
In addition to these advances, Cisco has introduced “Catch Me Up” for Webex. This feature allows users to quickly recover missed interactions, such as meeting, call, and chat barges. Using conversational prompts, generate responses based on the datasets the user is authorized to access.
According to Cisco 2023 State of Global Innovation study, IT professionals believe that Generative AI is the technology most likely to have a significant impact on their businesses. 85% of these professionals expressed their readiness for the impending AI revolution.
Recognizing the critical role that generative AI will play in shaping the future of work, Cisco said its new offerings will provide hybrid workers with a safe, efficient and highly productive work experience.
Features such as Webex summary, policy management, and SOC Assistant summaries will be available to users by the end of 2023. The company plans to release additional SOC Assistant features in the first half of 2024.
Improving security through AI-powered conversation experiences
According to Cisco, creating and managing security policies is a critical and complex information security hygiene function. Even small mistakes or oversights when making changes can lead to time-consuming and technically demanding situations, potentially leaving systems vulnerable to attack. Cisco’s Generative AI Policy Assistant is meant to help.
“Setting up firewall policies can be very complex, especially when organizations manage thousands of policies created over many years. As the number of policies increases, the risk of people gaining and maintaining excessive access to systems increases,” Cisco’s Patel told VentureBeat. “Our AI Policy Assistant will address this by helping admins set the right policies in advance, but also understand where there are conflicting or outdated policies so admins can reduce complexity and risk.”
Threat detection and response presents another high-risk and complex security responsibility. Analysts must quickly grasp complex systems at scale. To address this challenge, Cisco’s Security Operations Center (SOC) Assistant provides comprehensive situation analysis, correlates intelligent information, evaluates options, and offers actionable recommendations.
“It can summarize an incident based on data across multiple domains and communicate what happened in a way that is easy to understand and communicate more broadly within an organization,” Patel said.
Summing up, Patel said, “The State of Global Innovation study showed us that the focus on generative AI is sparking the imagination of IT professionals around the world. In security, that means eliminating complex interfaces into simpler conversations with AI assistants that can distill context to make more informed decisions faster. Using AI to streamline disparate tools and talents can help close security gaps or blind spots.”
A responsible approach to ensure privacy and security with generative AI
The company said it is committed to the responsible design and development of AI technology, with a focus on defending human rights, promoting inclusion, and embedding privacy and security as core principles.
“We don’t train our models using customer data, and the Webex platform has a built-in privacy framework that includes a robust set of policy and governance controls,” Patel explained. “IT administrators can also set granular security and compliance policies that prevent certain files and information from being shared with external people or between groups within the organization.”
He also highlighted the integration of governance controls and policies across various offerings, including Generative AI, within the Webex platform. Cisco Webex employs only rigorously tested and managed generative AI models to ensure the security of your conversations, meetings, documents, and other content.
Patel summed up Cisco’s approach to AI and LLMs like this:
“Leveraging our extensive experience in natural language understanding, Cisco is able to continuously adapt to rapidly changing large language patterns. This means that we will continue to provide the best quality with the lowest cost and environmental impact, while providing maximum security and privacy.”
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