AI seen as key tool in government's cybersecurity defense

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A large majority of federal IT decisions makers (90 percent) think artificial intelligence could help prepare agencies to defend against real-world cyber attacks, according to a new report from MeriTalk, a public-private partnership focused on improving the outcomes of government IT.

The study, underwritten by IBM, is based on an online survey of 150 federal IT managers familiar with their agency’s AI plans and policies, conducted in September and October 2017.

A majority of the respondents (87 percent) also think AI will improve the efficiency of the cyber security workforce and 91 percent note their agency could use AI to monitor human activity and deter insider threats.

Federal agencies view cyber security as the best place for government to harness AI today, with 59 percent of the decision makers selecting it as the first AI application, followed by data analytics (45 percent), fraud detection (31 percent), and risk management (26 percent).

On the other hand, just 21 percent of the respondents said they are “very comfortable” with their agency enlisting AI for cyber security today. In addition, nearly half of them are afraid to lead the pack on AI cyber security deployment, expressing concern about being the first to install AI on the front lines.

Against this backdrop, the report said, it’s interesting to note that 54 percent of agencies have begun discussing using AI for cyber security, and of that group only 41 percent have a formal AI cyber strategy in place.

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