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Predictive Security Analytics Getting Boost



The Federal Aviation Administration has begun a research and development pilot aimed at helping the agency detect and react to hackers before they have a chance to attack FAA systems, IBM (News - Alert) and the FAA announced Tuesday.


The pilot makes use of recently released IBM software called InfoSphere Streams, which was developed in conjunction with the Department of Defense and can perform realtime analytics on heavy throughput data streams of up to millions of events or messages per second.

FAA security analysts are swamped on a daily basis with a massive volume of security information coming from the FAA's firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and wireless detection systems as well as data feeds from other agencies and commercial security services such as Verisign's iDefense.

"We're faced with information overload," Mike Brown, the FAA's director of information systems security, said in an interview. "The challenge for me is how to meld all that stuff together so that my analysts get the most comprehensive and up-to-date information in order to help them make decisions."

The FAA is no stranger to publicized attacks. In recent years, they have included theft of personal information on 48,000 former and current employees, a takeover of the FAA's domain controllers, and a viral infection that forced the FAA to shut down systems in Alaska, according to a 2009 report from the Department of Transportation's inspector general.

That report calls some of the FAA's cybersecurity capabilities "ineffective."

Currently, the FAA is carrying out its research, which began within the last two months, in a lab that isn't connected to the rest of the FAA's operational systems. Over the course of a 10-month test, the FAA will be stressing the InfoSphere Streams software to see if it can handle the type and volume of data the FAA could eventually throw at it if a deployment is in the offing.

In addition to the FAA's own cybersecurity efforts, the FAA's security operations center manages cybersecurity for the rest of the Department of Transporation as well as for parts of the Department of Energy and the Department of Commerce, and Brown expects the amount of cybersecurity information being fed to the FAA's analysts only to grow with time.

According to IBM, the effort will work by first establishing certain baselines in order to be able to identify anomalous traffic, and then use those baselines to detect the presence of possible attackers in real-time and even to perform predictive analytics to anticipate what hackers who have infiltrated a system might do next in order to cut them off at the pass before they're able to do real damage.

"Instead of detecting the symptoms of the attack, you detect the attack while the attacker is still getting his ducks in a row," said Dave McQueeney, federal chief technology officer, IBM.

InfoSphere Streams is able to digest heavy streams of low-level data in multiple formats simultaneously, analyze them with pre-processing, and adjust to tweaks in algorithms and analytical models on the fly. The software runs on everything from standard Linux servers to IBM-built Linux-based supercomputers. InfoSphere Streams is highly configurable and can perform much more extensive analytics with the aid of a business intelligence platform.

Its applicability also isn't limited to cybersecurity. For example, the Air Force is using the software in a prototype cloud computing environment to analyze "massive amounts" of data, provide actionable insights about cyber threats and application failures, and automatically prevent disruptions. Farther afield, InfoSphere Streams is also being used in other industries for neonatal monitoring and detecting financial fraud, McQueeney said.

Dark Reading's Vulnerability Management Tech Center is your portal to all the news, product information, best practices, reports, and other data related to detecting and remediating security vulnerabilities. Check it out now.


David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David's articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Kelly McGuire
 

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What Are Related Definitions You Should Know?

Related definitions that you should know as you increase your understanding of predictive dialers include:

Dialer: generic term for any computer-driven device that places outbound calls and connects the answered calls to an agent or operator.

Agent: telephone professional to whom a predictive dialer sends the ready call.

Predictive Dialer: Predictive dialing was introduced for the purpose of increasing efficiency within calling centers. They are computer based system that automatically dial groups of telephone numbers, and then passes live calls to available agents. The SpitFire Enterprise dialer utilizes sophisticated algorithms to speed up and slow down the call rate based on, number of available agents, number of available lines, the campaign’s average call time and other statistical information.

Quick Connect: Quick Connect allows your agents to log in one-to-one with a phone line. This option is great for B2B purposes, especially when your agent needs to be on the phone line through the entire call.

Fixed Dialing: Fixed Dialing gives your call center manager the power to manually set the volume of calls. The software will then automatically dial a predetermined number of lines per agent. Fixed dialing is ideal for political campaigns, charity campaigns, and other situations drop call ratios are not a factor.

Auto dialer: makes thousands of calls screening for busy signals, no answers, fax machines while detecting answering machines/voicemail and delivers pre-recorded messages. SpitFireX Auto Dialer is a low cost solution for voice broadcasting.

How Do Predictive Dialers Work?

Predictive dialers use complex mathematical algorithms that calculate, in real time:

  1. the number of available agents
  2. the number of phone lines available
  3. the probability of reaching a human being at a specific number
  4. the time between calls required for optimum agent efficiency
  5. the length of typical agent/customer or
    debtor conversations
  6. the average length of time agents require to wrap up after a call

SpitFire Enterprise Predictive SEP is a fully blended call center solution that supports unlimited lines, agents, and campaigns. Its greatest strength is in its flexibility: multiple campaigns can be set up, viewed, and changed with the click of a button. With easy options for customization, data and dispositions can be catered to each campaign. In addition to our user-friendly interface, SEPhighlights full customer data and combines multiple campaigns on one screen. All the information your agents need is accessible at a glance, freeing their energy to focus on what matters: the calls.

Keep It Simple with SpitFire Fully Integrated Call Center Software

Our greatest priority is making your call center run smoothly, and we do that by developing software that is intuitive and easily integrated with your current systems. SEP works seamlessly with most CRM applications and long distance carriers, making it the simplest and most cost-effective solution for your call center.

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Benefits of Using a Predictive Dialer

  1. Manages the process of dialing tens of thousands of calls or tens of millions of calls in its lifetime.
  2. Detects the result of the call, as an example: no answer, busy, fax, bad number, answering machine without any presence of human expertise. Consequently saving time by only transferring calls which are voice connects to the agents locally or remotely.
  3. Using predictive dialer increases the productivity of the company by drastically increasing the time agents spend on the phone talking to actual customers or prospective clients.
  4. Predictive dialer users get the ability to organize and better manage the client information, no lost notes scribbled on pieces of paper. The database used by the dialer organizes the calling structure.
  5. The most significant task done by the predictive dialer is to predict, which means always making an effort to get a live call to the available agent with the shortest amount of wait time. This is achieved by self learning algorithms within the predictive dialer to increase or decrease the dial ratio per agent, logged into the system.
  6. Inbound call can be better dealt with by allowing the customers to wait on hold in an IVR system, or a way to leave a message they'd like a callback while the agent is busy talking with other customers.
  7. Most important benefit of a predictive dialer is it reduces expenses for your company over a period of time since you do not need to buy and deploy a complex and sometimes extremely expensive PBX system. Your company will experience return of investment (ROI) in a period of six to twelve months.
  8. A predictive dialing system can effortlessly fit into your companies existing infrastructure since it is software controlled.
  9. The call routing logic and the contact management is all included in one software package. Your call routing logic implemented as per your specifications. Since it is a software package it can easily be upgraded even if you are located remotely with the help of internet.
  10. Provides an added cost effective method of managing the client database by giving the user of the predictive system ability to rework your database on previous call results.

    Example:
    1. only redial records which were busy, no answers and answering machines
    2. Delete records which are bad numbers, disconnected numbers or operator intercepts
  11. Do a real time look up against the do not call database saving the predictive dialer user from accidentally calling people who have enrolled in the do National not call registry. This saves the company from lawsuits and others risks conforming to all legal statutes and FCC complaints.
  12. Provides progressive dialing capabilities like call blending which means handling inbound and outbound call at the same time.
  13. Provides ability to integrate call recording devices and call monitoring interfaces which helps call center supervisors to train agents and users and improve their customer support skills.
  14. Easy to setup and learn the predictive dialer logic and software tools.

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