NSA is creating a hub for AI security, Nakasone says

The National Security Agency is consolidating its various artificial intelligence efforts into a new hub, its director announced Thursday.

The Artificial Intelligence Security Center will become the spy agency’s “focal point” for AI activities such as “leveraging foreign intelligence insights,” helping to develop best practices guidelines for the fast-developing technology and creating “risk frameworks for AI security,” Army Gen. Paul Nakasone said during an event at the National Press Club in Washington.

The new entity will be housed within the agency’s Cybersecurity Collaboration Center and help industry “understand the threats against their intellectual property and collaborate to help prevent and eradicate threats,” Nakasone told the audience, adding it would team with organizations throughout the Defense Department, intelligence community, academia and foreign partners.

The announcement comes after the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, which Nakasone also helms, recently finished separate reviews of how they would use artificial intelligence in the future. The Central Intelligence Agency also said it plans to launch its own artificial intelligence-based chatbot.

One of the findings of the study was a “clear need” to focus on AI security, according to Nakasone, who noted NSA has “particular responsibilities” for such work because the agency is the designated federal manager for national security systems and already has extensive ties to the sprawling defense industrial base.

While U.S. firms are increasingly acquiring and developing generative AI technology, foreign adversaries are also “moving quickly to develop and apply their own AI and we anticipate they will begin to explore and exploit vulnerabilities of U.S. and allied AI systems,” the four-star warned.

He described AI security as protecting systems from “learning, doing and revealing the wrong thing,” as well as safeguarding them from digital attacks and ensuring “malicious foreign actors can’t steal America’s innovative AI capabilities.”

Nakasone did not specify who would lead the center or how large it might grow.

“Today, the U.S leads in this critical area but this lead should not be taken for granted,” he said.

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Martin Matishak

Martin Matishak is a senior cybersecurity reporter for The Record. He spent the last five years at Politico, where he covered Congress, the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community and was a driving force behind the publication’s cybersecurity newsletter.