OpenSSF Joins DARPA Program Seeking Next-Gen AI Cybersecurity Tools

Linux Foundation segment OpenSSF has joined a DARPA program seeking next-generation artificial intelligence (AI) powered cybersecurity tools for defense applications.

The AI Cyber Challenge (AIxCC) is a two-year effort to produce open-source software that enhances productivity while expanding attack surface or security measures to protect US defense cyberspace from malicious actors.

Under the program, the California-based firm will serve as the competition advisor, guiding participants in developing AI solutions to address vital cyber infrastructure security and software supply chains.

“Open source software is an essential and core part of our nation’s critical infrastructure,” OpenSSF General Manager Omkhar Arasaratnam explained.

“Finding new and innovative ways to ensure our open source software supply chain is secure by construction is in everyone’s best interest.”

Marines with Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command at the cyber operations center at Lasswell Hall aboard Fort Meade, Maryland, 2020.
Marines with Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command at the cyber operations center at Lasswell Hall aboard Fort Meade, Maryland, 2020. Photo: Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jacob Osborne

Solving Key Issues

According to DARPA, AIxCC’s resulting tools are expected to decrease US defense vulnerability against cyberattacks.

“In the past decade, we’ve seen the development of promising new AI-enabled capabilities,” AIxCC Program Manager Perri Adams stated.

“When used responsibly, we see significant potential for this technology to be applied to key cybersecurity issues. By automatically defending critical software at scale, we can have the greatest impact for cybersecurity across the country, and the world.”

The AI Cyber Challenge

AIxCC will include a Funded Track, sponsoring up to seven small industry partners to participate, and an Open Track enabling other competitors to proceed without DARPA funding.

Teams on both tracks will be screened in a qualifying phase. Up to 20 top-scoring groups will be offered to join the semifinal competition.

Afterward, up to five teams will receive monetary prizes and continue to the final phase, where three top partners will receive additional financial awards.

The semifinal and final phases will be facilitated at a defense convention in Las Vegas in 2024 and 2025, respectively.

DARPA will work alongside other tech companies, including Google, Microsoft, OpenAI, and Anthropic, on other parts of the project.

“If successful, AIxCC will not only produce the next generation of cybersecurity tools, but will show how AI can be used to better society by defending its critical underpinnings,” Adams said.

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