Sep 25 2019

DOD to Lay Foundation for AI-based Cybersecurity

The Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center will work with other agencies and vendors to standardize the collection of cyber data.

The Defense Department’s artificial intelligence strategy, released in February, calls for the use of standardized processes in areas such as data, testing and evaluation, and cybersecurity. Now, the DOD is starting to make that a reality. 

The Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center plans to work with the National Security Agency, U.S. Cyber Command and numerous DOD cybersecurity vendors to standardize data collection across the department, JAIC chief Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan said earlier this month, as Nextgov reports

Speaking earlier this month at the Billington CyberSecurity Summit in Washington, D.C., Shanahan discussed how the DOD wants to create a consistent way to curate, share and store cybersecurity data from across the Pentagon’s entire IT environment. Doing so will make it to easier to deploy AI-powered cybersecurity programs, he said.

“Data challenges are a particularly hard one for the cyber piece,” Shanahan said, according to a news article on DOD’s website.

MORE FROM FEDTECH: What is a zero-trust model for cybersecurity? 

DOD Seeks Streamlined Cybersecurity Data for AI

AI tools can analyze all manner of data, including video, language, images and more. Generally, it is relatively easy to classify objects. The same thinking applies to predictive maintenance and humanitarian assistance applications, Shanahan said. However, data in the cybersecurity realm is more ambiguous and thus more difficult to classify

To do so effectively, the DOD needs to establish a more solid baseline. “What does normal look like so anomalies and variances in the system can be detected in the data?” Shanahan said, according to the DOD. 

The DOD has about two dozen different cybersecurity vendors, and each collects data in its own unique way. Without standardization, the Pentagon will find it more difficult to train AI-based cybersecurity solutions to sift out when there is anomalous behavior. 

“What does normal look like? If we’re trying to detect anomalous behavior, I have to know what the baseline is,” Shanahan said, according to Nextgov. “[That’s] much more challenging on cyber than it is on full-motion video or predictive maintenance or even in our humanitarian assistance [efforts].

Standardized data is also crucial for creating AI algorithms. To fully take advantage of AI, “the data problem has to be addressed,” Shanahan said, according to the DOD. 

To do that, the JAIC is working with the NSA and Cyber Command to create a starting point for data curation, content, sharing and storage

“Just on that agreement, I think we'll have much more success down the road as we bring in commercial vendors to do product evaluation,” Shanahan said. “The challenge right now is they didn't know the data they’d be seeing.”

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