Air Force cybersecurity scheme aims to deceive and survive

Air Force Research Laboratory evaluating artificial intelligence, machine learning, cyber-deception technologies

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The Air Force is looking for cybersecurity technology that can deceive attackers but also help its network’s survive in case any online invaders are successful.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) issued two contracts valued at about $98 million to give the agency a variety of cybersecurity technologies that would go a long way towards foiling a range of threats.

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In the first contract, entitled “Capabilities for Cyber Mission Assurance” the Air Force said it was looking to develop cyber-deception capabilities that could be employed by commanders to provide false information, confuse, delay, or otherwise impede cyber attackers.

“Deception mechanisms must be incorporated in such a way that they are transparent to authorized users, and must introduce minimal functional and performance impacts, in order to disrupt adversaries and not ourselves. As such, proposed techniques must consider how challenges relating to transparency and impact will be addressed. The security of such mechanisms is also paramount, so that their power is not co-opted by attackers against us for their own purposes. These techniques are intended to be employed for defensive purposes only on networks and systems controlled by the DoD,” the Air Force said.

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The agency went onto state: “The DoD needs new tools and technologies to reverse the current asymmetry that favors DoD cyber adversaries, by forcing them to spend more, cope with greater levels of complexity and uncertainty, and accept greater risks of exposure and detection due to the significantly increased requirements for reconnaissance and intelligence collection on DoD networks. AFRL is seeking science & technology for defensive cyber maneuver and agility to disrupt adversary cyberspace operations, including adversary attack planning and execution.”

The second contract, entitled “Capabilities for Cyber Resiliency,” the Air Force said it was looking to bring artificial intelligence and machine learning technology further into the cybersecurity realm in an effort to respond more effectively and quickly to attacks.

“The Air Force executes cyber defensive operations that happen in real time at computer speeds. Many defensive operations can be automated; for a given input a prescribed output can be generated and many current technologies address automation of cyber defensive operations. There are still many areas where complex thought, decision-making, and understanding are required to effectively perform cyber defensive operations. Currently these decisions are made primarily by human operators. Precluding areas where human-in-the-loop decision-making is required by statute or policy, this area will seek to identify these decisions points, implement machine-learning and other artificial intelligence technologies, and deliver capabilities for semi-autonomous cyber defensive operations.”

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