DHS AI roadmap prioritises cybersecurity and national safety

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The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has launched its inaugural Roadmap for AI.

Viewed as a crucial step in the broader governmental effort to ensure the secure development and implementation of AI capabilities, the move aligns with President Biden’s recent Executive Order.

“DHS has a broad leadership role in advancing the responsible use of AI and this cybersecurity roadmap is one important element of our work,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to building a secure and resilient digital ecosystem that promotes innovation and technological progress.” 

Following the Executive Order, DHS is mandated to globally promote AI safety standards, safeguard US networks and critical infrastructure, and address risks associated with AI—including potential use “to create weapons of mass destruction”.

“In last month’s Executive Order, the President called on DHS to promote the adoption of AI safety standards globally and help ensure the safe, secure, and responsible use and development of AI,” added Mayorkas.

“CISA’s roadmap lays out the steps that the agency will take as part of our Department’s broader efforts to both leverage AI and mitigate its risks to our critical infrastructure and cyber defenses.”

CISA’s roadmap outlines five strategic lines of effort, providing a blueprint for concrete initiatives and a responsible approach to integrating AI into cybersecurity.

CISA Director Jen Easterly highlighted the dual nature of AI, acknowledging its promise in enhancing cybersecurity while acknowledging the immense risks it poses.

“Artificial Intelligence holds immense promise in enhancing our nation’s cybersecurity, but as the most powerful technology of our lifetimes, it also presents enormous risks,” commented Easterly.

“Our Roadmap for AI – focused at the nexus of AI, cyber defense, and critical infrastructure – sets forth an agency-wide plan to promote the beneficial uses of AI to enhance cybersecurity capabilities; ensure AI systems are protected from cyber-based threats; and deter the malicious use of AI capabilities to threaten the critical infrastructure Americans rely on every day.”

The outlined lines of effort are as follows:

  • Responsibly use AI to support our mission: CISA commits to using AI-enabled tools ethically and responsibly to strengthen cyber defense and support its critical infrastructure mission. The adoption of AI will align with constitutional principles and all relevant laws and policies.
  • Assess and Assure AI systems: CISA will assess and assist in secure AI-based software adoption across various stakeholders, establishing assurance through best practices and guidance for secure and resilient AI development.
  • Protect critical infrastructure from malicious use of AI: CISA will evaluate and recommend mitigation of AI threats to critical infrastructure, collaborating with government agencies and industry partners. The establishment of JCDC.AI aims to facilitate focused collaboration on AI-related threats.
  • Collaborate and communicate on key AI efforts: CISA commits to contributing to interagency efforts, supporting policy approaches for the US government’s national strategy on cybersecurity and AI, and coordinating with international partners to advance global AI security practices.
  • Expand AI expertise in our workforce: CISA will educate its workforce on AI systems and techniques, actively recruiting individuals with AI expertise and ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the legal, ethical, and policy aspects of AI-based software systems.

“This is a step in the right direction. It shows the government is taking the potential threats and benefits of AI seriously. The roadmap outlines a comprehensive strategy for leveraging AI to enhance cybersecurity, protect critical infrastructure, and foster collaboration. It also emphasises the importance of security in AI system design and development,” explains Joseph Thacker, AI and security researcher at AppOmni.

“The roadmap is pretty comprehensive. Nothing stands out as missing initially, although the devil is in the details when it comes to security, and even more so when it comes to a completely new technology. CISA’s ability to keep up may depend on their ability to get talent or train internal folks. Both of those are difficult to accomplish at scale.”

CISA invites stakeholders, partners, and the public to explore the Roadmap for Artificial Intelligence and gain insights into the strategic vision for AI technology and cybersecurity here.

See also: Google expands partnership with Anthropic to enhance AI safety

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