Do Young Humans + Artificial Intelligence = Cybersecurity?
The Army is recruiting smart young soldiers to wage cyberwar. But human talent is not enough. Ultimately, say experts, cyberspace is so vast, so complex, so constantly changing that only artificial intelligence can keep up. America can’t prevail in cyberspace through superior numbers. We could never match China hacker for hacker. So our best shot might be an elite corps of genius hackers whose impact is multiplied by automation.
Talent definitely matters – and it is not distributed equally. “Our best coders are 50 to 100 times better than their peers,” Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, head of Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER), said. There’s no other military profession, from snipers to pilots to submariners, that has such a divide between the best and the rest, he told last week’s International Conference on Cyber Conflict(CyberCon), co-sponsored by the US Army and NATO. One of the major lessons learned from the last 18 months standing up elite Cyber Protection Teams, he said, is the importance of this kind of “super-empowered individual.”
Such super-hackers, of course, exist in the civilian world as well. One young man who goes by the handle of Loki “over the course of a weekend…found zero-day vulnerabilities, vulnerabilities no one else had found in Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Apple Safari,” Carnegie Melon CyLab director David Brumley said. “This guy could own 80 percent of all browsers running today.” Fortunately, Loki’s one of the good guys, so he reported the vulnerabilities – and got paid for it – instead of exploiting them.