Matias Klein, Kognition: "AI is not a threat but rather a tool for turning big data into actionable intelligence"

We’re all used to the idea that users and enterprises should always implement necessary security measures to protect their devices from cyberattacks. Indeed, threat actors develop malicious programs and execute them on the targeted systems remotely. But what about real-life infiltrations?

Alarming volumes of cyber risk come from former workers who still have access to their emails or company documents. Worryingly, research by Beyond identity found that 50% of ex-employees use the remaining digital access to intentionally harm their former employer.

Matias Klein, the CEO and Co-Founder of Kognition says that artificial intelligence and machine learning should no longer be seen as a threat – they can be used to automate various security and identity verification processes to reduce the number of cyberattacks coming from the inside.

Tell us more about the story behind Kognition. What was your journey like throughout the years?

As a growth executive at McKesson (NYSE: MCK - #7 on Fortune 500), I was always on the lookout for innovative software solutions that could lower costs while increasing security and compliance in healthcare. A few years ago, as machine learning and artificial intelligence were just gaining mainstream prominence, I had an insight that this category of software was going to fundamentally change business processes and operations in the physical world for the better.

I realized that most security and compliance tasks would eventually be fully augmented using AI. And so, I left McKesson to pursue this insight to create a product to help manage this complexity. And thus, Kognition was formed.

Four years later, Kognition has some of the best enterprise-grade AI in the world, and some of the biggest tech partners too. We have successfully deployed our enterprise AI software in the facilities of major corporations all over the country, and our Fortune 500 clients are receiving significant ROI as a result.

Can you introduce us to what you do? Which sectors do you mainly focus on?

Over the past 25 years, nearly 100 million video cameras have been installed across the United States to provide improved security and safety for businesses. To this point, almost all of them have been set up as devices that record activity to a video management system or hard drive. In the event of an incident, a person can go back and review the data and try to figure out what happened, when? Purely a forensic activity.

Kognition’s AI platform and real-time applications provide these same cameras with the ability to generate immediate, real-time alerts which can be used to proactively respond to security threats or dangerous actions. Kognition is in the business of helping companies digitally transform their buildings and spaces to become so-called smart.

Since Kognition is an Enterprise software platform, we primarily focus on helping customers in the commercial real estate, financial services, healthcare, and manufacturing sectors to adopt this next-generation technology.

What types of technology do you use to detect dangerous activity?

The core of our technology is a proprietary data fusion engine that combines deep learning with real-time interoperability to create higher-level intelligence. Our enterprise AI system is a multi-patented software platform that provides customers with a single pane of glass for managing and monitoring not only intelligent video streams but also smart information from IoT sensors, access control, key entry systems, etc. Our proprietary technology can be easily applied to various use cases and many industries, including threat detection, cyber-physical security, biometric screening, identity verification, audio monitoring, and motion tracking or detection.

How did the pandemic affect your field of work? Did you add any new features as a result?

Initially, during the early stages of the pandemic, there was increasing interest among our customers to use Kognition’s AI platform to assist with occupancy, social distance monitoring, mask-wearing compliance, and fever screening. As the pandemic dragged on, these features became more like table stakes, while the majority of our customers continued to focus on security, safety, and compliance – Kognition’s highest value features. However, we always expand the capabilities of our platform to support our clients' most pressing needs, and the pandemic certainly highlighted the flexibility and adaptability of Kognition’s software to help mitigate high-impact dangers, even the invisible ones, like coronavirus.

What physical security measures would you consider a must for organizations nowadays?

It has become increasingly clear that companies have to ensure employee safety, dramatically enhance security, and actively monitor for threats while improving the customer experience. These obligations are now a Board of Directors level topic for most companies.

Simply expecting a few security guards combined with a few non-intelligent cameras to address an expanding threat landscape is not working. Not only is labor for the job not available, but the associated cost just doesn’t make sense. The technology exists today to take legacy installed video systems and convert them to smart systems at a very low relative cost.

If an organization is not thinking about proactive threat detection, access control, and systems that provide real-time alerts, then it's not thinking about basic compliance, governance, and risk management.

As for cybersecurity, what tools do you think are crucial both for companies and individuals nowadays?

Cybersecurity and physical security systems are converging. Most people now realize that a threat can come from an insider within an organization as easily as from a hacker outside an organization. Using AI you can and should bring together the critical information and intelligence from both cyber and physical security systems into a single process and management framework. This approach closes threat landscape gaps and helps manage risk from a higher-level perspective.

What are some of the most common methods criminals use to bypass various building security measures? What details should employees be on the lookout for?

A majority of what any corporate security operation team needs to focus on is fairly low-tech. It’s often a former or disgruntled employee that’s the source of threat or theft. Many employees are required to wear a card key with their picture on it or carry a key fob. However, key fobs are regularly lost or stolen, and does anyone in security match the picture on someone’s badge with their face?

Why wouldn’t you simply have an AI system automatically validate this person through identity verification every time they enter a secure space? Tailgating is an everyday problem. So, shouldn’t security get a smart alert instantly when anyone unauthorized tries to follow in someone who has badged through a door?

Hackers and thieves don’t break into your data centers with crazy digital tools as seen in movies nearly as often. They simply steal passwords, compromise networks by spoofing an existing employee or are working with someone inside a company that provides cooperative or inadvertent access.

Talking about the future, what will the security of public spaces be like in the upcoming years?

While the focus right now is often on creating more secure and more safe spaces, the opportunity for improved customer service and customer experience is unlimited. In the future, monitoring the way people move through public spaces will be the same as monitoring the Lighting or HVAC systems.

Are crowds forming? Is this expected or is this a threat? If I'm in retail and there is a long line, has the manager been automatically alerted to open more check-out registers to service more customers faster? Are VIPs recognized and given approved access to secure areas and doors where there is an expectation of excellent customer service?

There simply is no way to ever hire enough people to do all the work that is needed. By using AI, neural networks, and machine learning we can make smart buildings not only feel more convenient and comfortable but can make them more safe and secure at the same time.

Would you like to share what’s next for Kognition?

This is an exciting time for our company. We are working closely in partnership with one of the world’s largest technology companies, a top cybersecurity firm, and major players in the PropTech space to integrate our platform and applications into their Go To Market solutions.

Going forward, we also will be focusing more on ESG priorities, like energy efficiency and carbon footprint reduction. The smart building space is so dynamic, and the broader market is just now starting to understand that AI is not a threat but rather a tool for turning big data into actionable intelligence.

The global market for enterprise AI is expected to grow at a 40% CAGR between now and 2028, making it nearly a trillion-dollar market. There is incredible potential for companies like Kognition to contribute, and we’re looking forward to participating in that growth.

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