Google Announces Initiative to Boost Cybersecurity using AI

Google's new AI Cyber Defense Initiative aims to help digital defenders gain the upper hand over attackers and, in turn, boost global security

Google has announced it has formed a new initiative aimed at using AI to bolster the cyber defences of organisations globally.

The company’s AI Cyber Defense Initiative aims to help digital defenders gain the upper hand over attackers and, in turn, boost global security.

The initiative includes extensive investments, support for startups, small businesses, academic institutions and researchers, and enabling new and open-sourced AI security tools.

AI is an increasingly valuable tool for cybersecurity

Cybercriminals today are constantly innovating their tactics, exploiting vulnerabilities and breaching defences. To help security teams deal with these endless attacks, AI is becoming an essential ally.

Announcing this initiative, Google views AI as an inflection point for digital security, with more than 40% of people viewing better security as one of the technology’s top applications.​​​​​​​

The initiative features a number of aspects. Google for Startups: AI for Cybersecurity is a three-month programme that strengthens the transatlantic cybersecurity ecosystem by supporting the next wave of cyber companies, while Google will also invest US$2m in research grants and strategic partnerships to advance cybersecurity research initiatives using AI. 

The scheme will also see the Google.org Cybersecurity Seminars Program expand to cover all of Europe and include AI-focused modules - representing a US$15m total investment.

Google has also announced that it will be open-sourcing a new, AI-powered tool known as Magika. Having already used Magika to help protect products including Gmail, Drive and Safe Browsing, Google says the tool aids cyber defenders through file type identification, an essential part of detecting malware.

The company is also continuing to invest in its secure, AI-ready network of global data centres, helping to make new AI innovations available to public sector organisations and businesses of all sizes. Over the period 2019 to end 2024, Google has invested over US$5bn in data centers in Europe — helping support secure, reliable access to a range of digital services, including broad generative AI capabilities like its Vertex AI platform.

“AI gives defenders an edge–removing complexity, adapting to new attacks, and reacting to threats seamlessly and at scale,” says Google’s President of Global Affairs, Kent Walker. “Our AI Cyber Defense Initiative reverses the Defender’s Dilemma, where defenders have to be right all the time and attackers have to be right only once. But to keep up the momentum, we need policies that both mitigate the risks and seize the opportunities of AI.”

Google whitepaper: Reversing the ‘defenders dilemma’

At the Munich Security Conference in Germany Google released a whitepaper sharing new details about how it is employing AI for cyber defense and detailing a policy agenda designed to reverse the “defenders dilemma” - a cybersecurity concept which describes the inherent advantages of being a cyberattacker, over defender. 

The whitepaper, ‘Secure, Empower, Advance: How AI Can Reverse the Defender’s Dilemma’ argues that international collaboration can shape AI to benefit defenders, rather than attackers. Among the recommendations, Google asserts that a balanced regulatory approach to AI is needed to avoid a future where attackers can innovate but defenders cannot.

This is the latest in a series of announcements that Google has made to seize the opportunity of AI, and protect people’s cybersecurity. It recently announced the AI Opportunity Initiative - a €25M skilling programme to tackle the AI skills gap.

In November 2023 Google opened the Google Safety Engineering Center Malaga, a hub that aims to advance the state of the art in cybersecurity and malware analysis.

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