The NSA has a new security center specifically for guarding against AI

And also for protecting the government's own algorithms.


The National Security Agency (NSA) is starting a dedicated artificial intelligence security center, as reported by AP. This move comes after the government has begun to increasingly rely on AI, integrating multiple algorithms into defense and intelligence systems. The security center will work to protect these systems from theft and sabotage, in addition to safeguarding the country from external AI-based threats.

The NSA’s recent move toward AI security was announced Thursday by outgoing director General Paul Nakasone. He says that the division will operate underneath the umbrella of the pre-existing Cybersecurity Collaboration Center. This entity works with private industry and international partners to protect the US from cyberattacks stemming from China, Russia and other countries with active malware and hacking campaigns.

For instance, the agency issued an advisory this week suggesting that Chinese hackers have been targeting government, industrial and telecommunications outfits via hacked router firmware. There’s also the specter of election interference, though Nakasone says he’s yet to see any evidence of Russia or China trying to influence the 2024 US presidential election. Still, this has been a big problem in the past, and that was before the rapid proliferation of AI algorithms like the CIA’s recently-announced chatbot.

As artificial intelligence threatens to boost the abilities of these bad actors, the US government will look to this new security division to keep up. The NSA decided on establishing the unit after conducting a study that suggested poorly-secured AI models pose a significant national security challenge. This has only been compounded by the increase of generative AI technologies that the NSA points out can be used for both good and bad purposes.

Nakasone says the organization will become “NSA’s focal point for leveraging foreign intelligence insights, contributing to the development of best practices guidelines, principles, evaluation, methodology and risk frameworks” for both AI security and for the goal of secure development and adoption of artificial intelligence within “our national security systems and our defense industrial base.” To that end, the group will work hand-in-hand with industry leaders, science labs, academic institutions, international partners and, of course, the Department of Defense.

Nakasone is on his way out of the NSA and the US Cyber Command and he’ll be succeeded by his current deputy, Air Force Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh. Nakasone has been at his post since 2018 and, by all accounts, has had quite a successful run of it.