Google Initiative Aims to Boost AI for Cybersecurity | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

Google is pushing AI as the technology that will shift the balance of power from cyberattackers to security professionals and is launching a new project to make that a reality.

The AI Cyber Defense initiative is the tech giant’s latest effort to leverage AI for cybersecurity and to reverse the so-called “Defender’s Dilemma,” the idea that cybercriminals need to be right only once – to build the right threat – to be successful, while defenders need to be right every time and deploy the best defenses everywhere all the time.

Right now, the various patches that are issued, preventative measures taken, and public awareness campaigns launched only address the threats underway by bad actors and state-sponsored groups, but not the threats that are coming down the road, according to Phil Venables, Google Cloud’s CISO, and Royal Hansen, vice president of engineering for privacy, safety, and security at Google.

“That could be changing,” Venables and Hansen wrote in a blog post. “As the world focuses on the potential of AI — and governments and industry work on a regulatory approach to ensure AI is safe and secure — we believe that AI represents an inflection point for digital security.”

They added that “AI is at a definitive crossroads — one where policymakers, security professionals and civil society have the chance to finally tilt the cybersecurity balance from attackers to cyber defenders. At a moment when malicious actors are experimenting with AI, we need bold and timely action to shape the direction of this technology.”

This is where the AI Cyber Defense initiative comes in, informed by Google’s capabilities for deploying AI at scale through Google Cloud and with the promise that the technology can reverse the long-standing dynamic that favored the attackers over the defenders.

“AI allows security professionals and defenders to scale their work in threat detection, malware analysis, vulnerability detection, vulnerability fixing and incident response,” Venables and Hansen wrote.

Others Also Look to AI for Cybersecurity

Google isn’t the only established IT player using AI to bolster cyber-defenses. Microsoft in November 2023 unveiled Microsoft Security Copilot and last week talked about the threat of AI in the hands of cybercriminals and the ways that AI is helping security pros.

“Generative AI has incredible potential to help all defenders protect their organizations at machine speed,” Vasu Jakkal, corporate vice president of security, compliance, identity, and management at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post. “AI’s role in cybersecurity is multifaceted, driving innovation and efficiency across various domains. From enhancing threat detection to streamlining incident response, AI’s capabilities are reshaping cybersecurity. The use of LLMs [large-language models] in cybersecurity is a testament to AI’s potential.”

Vendors like Amazon, IBM, and Meta are making similar strides in using AI to push back against cyberthreats.

Initiative is One of Google’s Efforts

Venables and Hansen outlined steps Google already has taken to address AI and security. That includes the release last year of its Secure AI Framework, part of a larger industry driven by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to mix security into the development of software, including AI software.

Google is continuing to spend on its security and AI-ready data centers around the world, including spending more than $5 billion in European data centers between 2019 and the end of this year to bolster their security, and created an AI for Cybersecurity program under its Google for Startups Growth Academy’s AI security program. It will include 17 startups from the United States, UK, and European Union.

Google also is expanding its $15 million Cybersecurity Seminars Program – which includes AI-focused modules and is designed to support universities in offering cybersecurity training – to include all of Europe, and is open sourcing Magika, an AI-powered tool that helps defenders with identifying file types, which is an important part of detecting malware.

$2 Million for AI Cybersecurity Research

The company also rolled out $2 million in research grants and partnerships to strengthen cybersecurity research programs using AI, such as enhancing code verification, the understanding of AI’s role in offensive cybersecurity and countermeasure efforts, and creating LLMs that are more resistant to cyberthreats.

Right now, AI is helping companies detect threats and lift some of the burden from defenders, many of whom are suffering from burnout from the rising numbers and sophistication of attacks, according to the authors of Google’s 26-page report about its AI Cyber Defense initiative.

“Tomorrow, if we work together, we believe AI can raise organizations up to a capable level, help us address the complexity crisis that is the source of countless breaches, and render attacker tactics obsolete,” they wrote. “As threats continue to multiply, exacerbated now by attacker use of AI, we have no choice but to seize this moment. Through partnership and focused investments, we can reverse the Defender’s Dilemma.”

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