I see you're trying to leak a file! US military seeks Clippy-like AI to stop future Snowdens

Needs the ability to cope with Microsoft docs without breaking


The US Department of Defense is exploring whether or not it's worth using artificially intelligent software to suggest levels of classification for information – and control who gets access to it.

A sneak peek into the military's formal request for ideas on the matter, filed back in May, and the recent responses from tech suppliers, give hints at how such a system would work.

“To continue to securely create, access, process, manipulate, and monitor information, DoD CIO has the need to identify potential sources that can provide a commercial off-the-shelf [solution] to implement discretionary access controls on top of the currently established mandatory access controls,” the department's officials wrote in their requirements.

It’s tricky determining how sensitive intelligence information really is, and how it should be classified: whether it should be secret, top secret, and so on. It’s something machines can’t quite do yet considering they have no real understanding of human text.

Thus, it's still up to government analysts to mark intelligence reports and documents under specific labels according to internal rules, policies, and operations. It's reasonable to assume, though, that machine-learning technology could be used to suggest levels of classification, as well as automatically monitor and log records of who accessed files, where they were accessed, which systems were used to access the materials, if any changes were made, and whether that person really had a need to know the contents.

And presumably raise the alarm if something untoward is detected.

IRS

US taxman wants AI to do the security checks it seemingly can't do itself

READ MORE

“The tool will require the user to ultimately define a security classification marking but might offer suggestions based upon dirty words or internal classification markings,” the Pentagon officials wrote in their requirements, describing some kind of Microsoft Word Clippy assistant but for intelligence analysts.

All of this should be packaged into a clean and non-confusing user interface so that the Dept of Defense can be sure materials are only shared with trusted personnel and organizations within the department, and with external companies, too. The system also has to cope with up to 25,000 users at any one time.

Ideally, the AI would be able to deal with any type of file that can be opened using a Microsoft operating system or product, specifically “MS Server, SQL, NetApp Storage, MS Office, MS Exchange, and Skype for Business.” At a minimum, “the software must work with Microsoft Office products, including Outlook/Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync.” The platform should also be used via “software collaboration tools” rather than being a standalone network or service itself.

It may – may – also be able to prevent the next Edward Snowden-style or Reality-Winner-esque leaks with neural-network-powered access controls.

However, it looks as though Uncle Sam has been swept up in the whole AI hype. Its tax-collecting division, the Internal Revenue Service, also recently filed a request for information to see how machine-learning technology could be used to secure taxpayers' records on its servers. ®

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022