Innovation Story

Identity Guard: Using AI to protect your privacy

The Innovation

Build customized, scalable personal privacy protection

Identity Guard, a proactive identity and credit monitoring service, helps empower individuals to protect themselves from the growing threat of identity theft. With the help of IBM Watson’s artificial intelligence to monitor unstructured online data, Identity Guard can process massive amounts of information that include things like their customers’ digital footprints and online images.

The Watson Natural Language Classifier is one of the services that makes this possible. The service uses AI techniques to return the best matching classes for a sentence or phrase that can be found in news articles, blogs, posts, social media comments – any online information.

The Challenge

Customized solutions for individuals

Twenty years ago your identity was your social security number, your address, and your name. Today, your identity is a vast, interconnected web of little digital pieces of information that you leave behind. Technology is changing everything about how we live – from the way we shop to how we interact with friends, acquaintances, and strangers. With this constant change, there are more opportunities for fraud, financial harm, and cybercrime.

And what’s being compromised leads to more than just financial fraud. There’s stolen health information and online personal crimes such as stalking and cyberbullying.

The problem: Each person is different and may require a customized solution. “What you do day to day is different from the person sitting next to you,” says Ellen Richards, Senior Product Manager, Identity Guard. “The broader scope of information we can provide to protect your identity, the more value we’ll give [to you as] our customer.”

How do you climb that high mountain, to provide a personal identity solution that scales to the individual’s needs and scope?

Our solution? Just add Watson.

Grant Gelven, Product Development Scientist, Identity Guard

The Solution

A security solution that keeps learning

Keeping an individual’s unique needs in mind, Identity Guard integrated Watson capabilities such as machine self-learning, human-computer interaction, natural language processing, and data mining into its product to make it easy to build a customized identity theft monitoring solution.

With Watson, Identity Guard can scan millions of news articles, blogs, posts, and social media comments daily to warn you of emerging threats. It can categorize various factors that contribute to your identity protection and privacy and communicate suggestions to you based on news alerts. It can also create algorithms based on your user behaviors to help identify which of your digital habits are making you vulnerable to harm and explain how to change those habits.

“Watson is highly intelligent, knows exactly what we want to look for, and it’s tireless, so it’s constantly scrubbing, constantly looking,” says Identity Guard VP for Creative John Clarkson. “It’s the perfect scalable solution that is sophisticated enough to battle the sophistication and proliferation of identity thieves.”

The Impact

Better protection for the individual

For Identity Guard, a partner in the With Watson program, the results were immediate – an identity protection product that was easy to customize for the individual and which delivered a broad range of threat monitoring.

“I don’t know what things are going to look like in five years, but we are going to stay on top of it,” commented John Clarkson. “Identity Guard is going to be there; I know that IBM Watson’s going to be there too.”

And so will technologies like IBM Watson Natural Language Classifier, which can help your application understand the language of short texts and make predictions about how to handle them.

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