The rise of generative AI has sparked a frenzy comparable to the California gold rush of the 1840s. The technology has captured the attention of Silicon Valley and is projected to inject trillions of dollars into the global economy annually. However, amid the rush for digital treasure, concerns about safety and security within the industry have begun to emerge.
With the potential for generative AI to revolutionize digital innovation, it also introduces a new layer of complexity to the cyberthreat landscape. According to the “Google Cloud Cybersecurity Forecast 2024,” attackers are expected to leverage generative AI and large language models (LLMs) to carry out cyberattacks such as phishing and smishing. This has raised significant concerns among IT decision-makers, with many expressing worry about the ability to defend against AI-enabled threats.
The security challenges posed by generative AI parallel those of previous generations of software that were not built with security in mind, placing the burden of security on the end-user. In light of these concerns, CISA has released a roadmap emphasizing the importance of integrating security as a core component of the AI system development lifecycle. This roadmap outlines strategic goals aimed at responsibly using AI to support CISA’s mission, facilitating the adoption of secure-by-design principles, protecting critical infrastructure from malicious use of AI, and expanding AI expertise in the CISA workforce.
The implementation of secure-by-design principles is essential to reduce the exploit surface of AI applications and promote security as a core business requirement. This approach, if implemented during the early stages of product development, can help safeguard customers from potential security threats. However, it is crucial that AI system developers prioritize secure-by-design principles, and ensure that AI systems are built to uphold fundamental human values and ethical boundaries.
The consequences of failing to prioritize safe and secure AI systems could extend beyond the realm of cybersecurity. Developers may face legal consequences for damages caused by their products, shifting the burden of responsibility away from victims and potentially leading to criminal or civil penalties. As a result, developers need to be mindful of the financial and brand reputational risks of inaction.
While the potential dangers and risks associated with AI security are significant, cyberdefenders also have a role to play in making cyber-resilience an organizational priority. Strong cyber hygiene is crucial in today’s threat environment.
Overall, taking proactive steps to ensure the safe and secure development of AI systems is essential. By following CISA’s roadmap and integrating secure by design with AI alignment throughout the development lifecycle, the industry can navigate the era of AI safely and responsibly. As the technology continues to evolve, this steadfast commitment to safety and security is paramount.