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Addressing AI and Security Challenges With Red Teams: A Google Perspective

Red Teams can help organizations better understand vulnerabilities and secure critical AI deployments.

October 2, 2023

3 Min Read
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Source: Michael_Luenen via Pixabay

By Jacob Crisp, Global Head of Strategic Response, Google Cloud

In our digital world, the security landscape is in a constant state of flux. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) will trigger a profound shift in this landscape, and we must be prepared to address the security challenges associated with new frontiers of AI innovation in a responsible way.

At Google, we're acutely aware of these challenges and are working to ensure robust security for AI systems. That's why we introduced the Secure AI Framework (SAIF), a conceptual framework to help mitigate risks specific to AI systems. One key strategy we're employing to support SAIF is the use of AI Red Teams.

What Are AI Red Teams?

The Red Team concept is not new, but it has become increasingly popular in cybersecurity as a way to understand how networks might be exploited. Red Teams put on an attacker's hat and step into the minds of adversaries — not to cause harm, but to help identify potential vulnerabilities in systems. By simulating cyberattacks, Red Teams identify weak spots before they can be exploited by real attackers and help organizations anticipate and mitigate these risks.

When it comes to AI, simulated attacks aim to exploit potential vulnerabilities in AI systems and can take different forms to avoid detection, including manipulating the model's training data to influence the model's output according to the attacker's preference, or attempting to covertly change the behavior of a model to produce incorrect outputs with a specific trigger word or feature, also known as a backdoor.

To help address these types of potential attacks, we must combine both security and AI subject-matter expertise. AI Red Teams can help anticipate attacks, understand how they work, and most importantly, devise strategies to prevent them. This allows us to stay ahead of the curve and create robust security for AI systems.

The Evolving Intersection of AI and Security

The AI Red Team approach is incredibly effective. By challenging our own systems, we're identifying potential problems and finding solutions. We're also continuously innovating to make our systems more secure and resilient. Yet, even with these advancements, we're still on a journey. The intersection of AI and security is complex and ever evolving, and there's always more to learn.

Our report "Why Red Teams Play a Central Role in Helping Organizations Secure AI Systems" provides insights into how organizations can build and use AI Red Teams effectively with practical, actionable advice based on in-depth research and testing. We encourage AI Red Teams to collaborate with security and AI subject-matter experts for realistic end-to-end simulations. The security of the AI ecosystem depends upon our collective effort to work together.

Whether you're an organization looking to strengthen your security measures or an individual interested in the intersection of AI and cybersecurity, we believe AI Red Teams are a critical component to securing the AI ecosystem.

Read more about AI Red Teams and how to implement Google's SAIF.

About the Author

Jacob Crisp works for Google Cloud to help drive high-impact growth for the security business and highlight Google's AI and security innovation. Previously, he was a Director at Microsoft working on a range of cybersecurity, AI, and quantum computing issues. Before that, he co-founded a cybersecurity startup and held various senior national security roles for the US government.

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