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U.S. Launches $20 Million AI Cybersecurity Contest to Combat Hackers

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

[Edited] In a bid to combat the growing threat of cyberattacks, the White House has announced the launch of a multimillion-dollar cyber contest that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to identify and fix security vulnerabilities in U.S. government infrastructure.

U.S. Launches $20 Million AI Cybersecurity Contest to Combat Hackers
Credits: REUTERS

The contest comes as hackers increasingly employ AI for malicious purposes, posing a significant risk to national security.

Anne Neuberger, the U.S. government's deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technology, emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating, "Cybersecurity is a race between offense and defense. We know malicious actors are already using AI to accelerate identifying vulnerabilities or build malicious software."

Recent years have seen a rise in cyberattacks targeting various sectors, including healthcare, manufacturing, and government institutions. Officials have expressed concerns about future threats, particularly from foreign adversaries. Neuberger's remarks echo those of Canada's cybersecurity chief, Samy Khoury, who highlighted the use of AI in activities such as creating phishing emails, writing malicious code, and spreading disinformation.

The two-year contest, led by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), will offer approximately $20 million in rewards. Technology giants such as Alphabet's Google, Anthropic, Microsoft, and OpenAI will contribute their AI systems to the challenge, marking their commitment to addressing this emerging threat.

The contest signifies a concerted effort to tackle a complex and evolving problem that experts are still grappling with. Over the past year, U.S. companies have introduced generative AI tools like ChatGPT, enabling users to create convincing videos, images, texts, and computer code. Chinese companies have also launched similar models to keep pace with these advancements.

Experts warn that such tools could facilitate mass hacking campaigns and the creation of fake profiles on social media platforms to disseminate false information and propaganda. Neuberger outlined the goal of the DARPA AI challenge, stating, "Our goal with the DARPA AI challenge is to catalyze a larger community of cyber defenders who use the participating AI models to race faster – using generative AI to bolster our cyber defenses."

To ensure the effective implementation of the winning software code, the Open Source Security Foundation (OpenSSF), a group of experts dedicated to enhancing open-source software security, will oversee the process.

As the White House takes proactive measures to safeguard government systems from cyber threats, this AI-based contest represents a significant step forward in strengthening national cybersecurity defenses.

  • The White House has launched a multimillion-dollar cyber contest that utilizes AI to enhance the security of U.S. government infrastructure.

  • The contest aims to address the growing use of AI by hackers for malicious purposes.

  • Technology giants such as Google, Anthropic, Microsoft, and OpenAI will contribute their AI systems to the challenge.


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