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7 Ways to Bring AI to Cybersecurity

Academic researchers are developing projects to apply artificial intelligence to detect and stop cyberattacks and keep critical infrastructure secure, thanks to grants from the Digital Transformation Institute.

Shannon Flynn, Contributing Writer

June 15, 2022

8 Slides

New ransomware variants and deceptive techniques such as living off the land and store now, decrypt later are sidestepping heuristic analysis and signature-based malware detection. Behavior-based tools can compare network activity against an established norm and flag when they detect unusual and suspicious actions and patterns. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), such tools represent hope in a post-Colonial Pipeline world.

C3 AI, a company specializing in applying AI to facilitate enterprise-level digital transformation, recently awarded 24 grants under its Digital Transformation Institute (DTI) initiative. This year, DTI awarded grants to candidates who submitted proposals about applying AI to detect and stop cyberattacks and keep critical infrastructure secure. This work is timely, especially since several US government agencies recently released a joint warning against malware distributed by foreign adversaries with the sole purpose of disabling essential services.

Since its founding in March 2020, DTI has focused on supporting collaborative research that furthers work in AI, ML, and related subdisciplines. Its participants include 10 industry and academic organizations, including Microsoft, Princeton, and MIT.

During this grant round, DTI funded AI and infrastructure proposals. However, the priorities for previous years were arguably just as essential. In 2021, the focus was on using AI for climate and energy security, while the emphasis for 2020 concerned applying AI to mitigate COVID-19 and future pandemics.

Candidates go through a selection process that includes peer reviews for their proposals. It also accounts for things such as their previous accomplishments and how the project uses emerging technologies. Moreover, proposals get examined for their scalability potential and how they could positively impact society.

However, the research grant award program is only one of several programs offered through the DTI. A visiting scholars initiative will provide up to $750,000 annually to the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign so that those universities can bring six to 10 industry experts to their campuses for teaching, research, and the publication of works to the public domain. An industry partner program and curriculum development support are among other efforts under the DTI umbrella.

Here's what seven of the grant recipients hope to achieve.

About the Author(s)

Shannon Flynn

Contributing Writer

Shannon Flynn is a technology writer and managing editor at

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