Researchers at the University of Arizona are working on a new cybersecurity programme that has been inspired by the CNS in humans.
Its aim is to teach devices to automatically detect and neutralise cyber-threats before they have a chance to do them any damage, independently of their users.
Salim Hariri, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Arizona, and the project’s principal investigator, said: “I felt we could learn about how the body protects us by reacting to threats and maybe apply it to cyber by building a ‘cyber immune system’.”
“We’re trying to build these abilities where, when somebody attacks your computer, these measures can detect the attack and act on it before you’re even aware something is compromised.”
Unlike current security methods, which tend to deal with cyber-threats in a reactive way, researchers want the new system to function proactively; using AI and machine learning, they propose to train machines to recognise cyber-threats on their own—much as the human body’s immune system might recognise a pathological virus.
To stop threats before they infect a network or device, they will also teach the machines how to recognise threats as they evolve and how to implement a wide range of cures. With an encyclopaedia of remedies at their disposal, the machines will be able to effectively diagnose and treat the problem themselves.
“An attacker can reach hundreds of thousands of thousands of devices in a fraction of a second, so we need our ability to detect threats and protect a system to work just as quickly,” said Hariri.
This new method is being developed as part of the Partnership for Proactive Cybersecurity Training project.
The National Nuclear Security Administration has awarded the project a $3 million grant to be paid over a three-year period. Under the terms of the grant, researchers will train students, especially from the University of Arizona, Howard University, and Navajo Technical University as they work to create new cybersecurity techniques.
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