Element AI Announces Cybersecurity Collaboration with National Bank of Canada

Element AI, a company that is notoriously secretive when it comes to disclosing clients and companies it works with, has announced a new partner.

The Montreal-based AI firm has unveiled a new collaboration with the National Bank of Canada (NBC) to bring AI-powered software to the bank’s Security Operations Centre (SOC). Security analysts at NBC will be able to better detect and respond to cybersecurity threats with this new collaboration, guided by Element AI’s machine learning technology.

Element AI will work with NBC to create real-time cybersecurity reports and alerts, allowing the SOC team to instantly address any problem that may arise. The new AI integration will also autonomously hunt for new threats to the system by analyzing data and creating a response workflow. A big chunk of this will be removing any potential false positives, a common problem with cybersecurity solutions—if the false positives can be addressed and removed, analysts can better focus on the real attacks and prep systems for the next generation of threats.

This is the first cybersecurity collaboration for Element AI and the company’s first product announcement of 2019. The AI firm has been very protective when it came to revealing partners they have worked with, though the plan for 2019 will involve Element AI slowly building out their client list through announcements similar to this.

In mid-2018, Techvibes was one of the first outlets to report on Element AI’s product strategy as well as clients they were working with, including the Port of Montreal and a large North American insurance provider. It was then that Element AI CEO and co-founder Jean-Francois Gagné explained the company’s goal to prioritize collaboration within the AI community in addition to focusing on the ethical outcomes of building machine learning algorithms for massive enterprise partners.

“Right now, the current position of democratizing AI is having a company work with you only if you put all your data and pay me for a compute cycle on my cloud,” said Gagne. “It’s saying ‘we’re democratizing AI but we’re locking you on our data centre.’ That’s the tradeoff you have to face right now.”

“Figuring out the right way to shape outcomes should not be something we think of on top of our ivory tower,” continued Gagné. “It should emerge from collaboration and a community that has a voice. The only way we make the right decisions is through adding rational and educated people that are understanding and have access to the tech themselves.”

Cybersecurity is a massive concern that companies from all sectors have to contend with, prompting the Canadian government to release its strategy for how companies should address problems and prepare for the future. Relying on AI for cybersecurity solutions is still a new and relatively untested field that can lead to a false sense of security. Hackers can obtain information pools that have not been scrubbed of anomalous data, leading to algorithms missing certain attacks. Attackers can also work out specific features of an algorithm that lead it to identify malicious intent, then scrub that from their own code, thus protecting it from identification.

Element AI recently made it onto CB Insights’ AI 100 as a top AI company in the world. It was the only Canadian company to land on the 2019 list.