Prof. Ben Azvine PhD, MBA, FIET, FITP

Distinguished Engineer and Global head of security research, BT Group

Ben leads the global cyber security research programme in BT. He is responsible for setting direction and strategy for Security research, identifying innovation opportunities and leading a strong international team of researcher to develop new capabilities in collaboration with industrial and academic partners.

Ben is a BT distinguished engineer with 30 years’ experience in both academia and industry. His previous roles included leading the IT research centre and head of business intelligence & customer analytics research at BT Group Chief Technology Office. He holds a BSc in Mechanical Engineering, an MSc in Control Engineering, a PhD in Intelligent Control Systems from Manchester University and an Exec. MBA from Imperial College, London. Having held research fellowship and lectureship posts in several universities, he joined BT in 1995 to lead a research programme to develop and exploit novel Artificial Intelligence technology to support next generation IT systems. Since then he has held senior, principal, chief research scientist posts at BT’s global R&D headquarters in Adastral Park, Ipswich where he is currently based.

He has edited two books and published more than 100 scientific articles on novel application of AI. He is an inventor of 50 patent applications, has won 4 BCS and an IET gold medals for IT innovation, holds visiting professorship positions at the Universities of Bristol, Suffolk and Bournemouth. Ben is a current fellow of Institute of Telecom Engineers (FITP) and Institute of Engineering and Technology (FIET) and is on the board of IoT Security Foundation. His current research interests include the application Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to Cyber security to protect networks as a critical national infrastructure. His current projects include Future home security, Automated detection and response for Cyber security, Crypto-agility including Post quantum crypto, and continuous authentication.

From our Keynote

“There is no doubt that Cyber Security is one of the greatest man-made challenges of our time. The growing number of threats, the advanced capabilities of the attackers and complexity of the systems we use every day will no doubt make this issue more challenging in the next decade. In this talk I will look at the dynamic future cyber environment and the threats that will be associated with it in the next 10 years, together with a range of potential measures that can be taken to mitigate those threats. There are a lot of misconceptions about AI but there are two key aspects to consider. The threat of AI which can be used as a weapon against us and the positive impact to help develop our defensive capability, so we can detect and respond faster.

Our research is looking at how AI is being weaponised by the bad guys to create false identities, and deep fakes. The opportunity there is, how do you actually help our customers tell the difference between what’s real and what’s fake? AI technologies and machine learning technologies are susceptible to certain types of attacks, adversarial attacks and poisoning attacks and so on. So, there is an opportunity for us to have technologies to test AI systems, to see what kind of vulnerabilities they have, and then remedy those vulnerabilities before they’re actually deployed in our system.

In BT we recently launched a platform called Eagle-i. Eagle-i is a fundamentally different way of observing what’s going on. We call it the ringside view of the internet. We have a ringside view of what is going on in the world, in terms of network data that we have. We want to bring that data all into one place and be able to analyse it, to understand and predict cyber-attacks before they happen.

We’re generating virtual environments in which we could create a virtual security operations center or a virtual network operation center to bring experts from across the world to investigate and determine what we need to do in a particular incident and then determine what the best response is.

We can use AI to build a model of our network and use that model to simulate tens of thousands of different responses to a particular incident that we’re dealing with. We can determine what the best action is in that scenario in order for us to enact that in our network. We are also developing continuous authentication technologies to replace passwords and multifactor authentication processes and reduce the risk of attackers accessing our systems.

In summary, I will cover technological challenges and opportunities that the developing cyber environment will present, covering technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and quantum computing. AI is currently good at being trained but not as creative as human beings. I will showcase how we can detect and respond to attacks and how we’re using the latest AI technologies to create new capabilities for our networks in the future cyber environment.”