Visible to the public Problems of Poison: New Paradigms and "Agreed" Competition in the Era of AI-Enabled Cyber Operations

TitleProblems of Poison: New Paradigms and "Agreed" Competition in the Era of AI-Enabled Cyber Operations
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsWhyte, C.
Conference Name2020 12th International Conference on Cyber Conflict (CyCon)
KeywordsAI, AI cyber operations, AI Poisoning, AI-augmented cyber defenses, AI-enabled cyber campaigns, AI-enabled cyber operations, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence technologies, cyber, cyber activities, Cyber Attacks, defensive mission, deterrence, Human Behavior, machine learning, national defense establishments, national defense postures, offensive cyber operations, operational obfuscation, persistent engagement, poisoning attacks, Protocols, pubcrawl, Resiliency, Scalability, societal systems, soon-to-be-ubiquitous AI systems
AbstractFew developments seem as poised to alter the characteristics of security in the digital age as the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. For national defense establishments, the emergence of AI techniques is particularly worrisome, not least because prototype applications already exist. Cyber attacks augmented by AI portend the tailored manipulation of human vectors within the attack surface of important societal systems at great scale, as well as opportunities for calamity resulting from the secondment of technical skill from the hacker to the algorithm. Arguably most important, however, is the fact that AI-enabled cyber campaigns contain great potential for operational obfuscation and strategic misdirection. At the operational level, techniques for piggybacking onto routine activities and for adaptive evasion of security protocols add uncertainty, complicating the defensive mission particularly where adversarial learning tools are employed in offense. Strategically, AI-enabled cyber operations offer distinct attempts to persistently shape the spectrum of cyber contention may be able to pursue conflict outcomes beyond the expected scope of adversary operation. On the other, AI-augmented cyber defenses incorporated into national defense postures are likely to be vulnerable to "poisoning" attacks that predict, manipulate and subvert the functionality of defensive algorithms. This article takes on two primary tasks. First, it considers and categorizes the primary ways in which AI technologies are likely to augment offensive cyber operations, including the shape of cyber activities designed to target AI systems. Then, it frames a discussion of implications for deterrence in cyberspace by referring to the policy of persistent engagement, agreed competition and forward defense promulgated in 2018 by the United States. Here, it is argued that the centrality of cyberspace to the deployment and operation of soon-to-be-ubiquitous AI systems implies new motivations for operation within the domain, complicating numerous assumptions that underlie current approaches. In particular, AI cyber operations pose unique measurement issues for the policy regime.
Citation Keywhyte_problems_2020