Further development of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies has the potential to tip the scales in cybersecurity in favor of the defender, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Bradford Shwedo, director for Command, Control, Communications and Computers/Cyber, and CIO for Joint Chiefs of Staff, today at an event organized by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA).

Gen. Shwedo, who earned a degree in military history at the Air Force Academy and previously was the Air Force’s CIO and chief of information dominance, discussed current cybersecurity threats in terms of the historical emergence of game-changing weapons including, for example, the emergency of early generations of aircraft followed by development of sophisticated weapons technologies to shoot them down.

Currently, the ability to mount sophisticated cyber attacks favors the attacker for numerous reasons including profound difficulties in accurately attributing attacks to their sources and then exacting retribution.

But if the development of AI technologies proceeds to the point of “I can identify that hacker…Boy, that would be a game changer,” Shwedo said. So much so, he continued, it “would swing the pendulum back” in favor of cyber defenders.

Elsewhere during his remarks, Shwedo commented favorably on cooperation between the Defense Department (DoD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the run-up to the U.S midterm elections last month, and said the two departments will continue to cooperate on election security and critical infrastructure protection.

“The good news is we are getting a lot of support from them,” he said of DHS, but hastened to add that in the case of election security, any information or other assistance that DoD may provide goes through the civilian agency, and not the other way around.

“We have a lot of information to share,” Shwedo said, adding that the two agencies’ work on tel3ction security helping to break down “the stone walls” between them.


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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.