North Dakota turns to AI to boost effectiveness and efficiency of its cybersecurity

The recent proliferation of tools that use artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) to perform human-like tasks has sparked a great deal of interest in the cybersecurity community. And they have raised some very difficult questions about the future, not the least of which is whether ChatGPT, BardAI, Bing AI, and the dozens of other “AI” tools and applications already in use pose a threat or a boon to security operations.

The state of North Dakota is betting on the boon. The US state in the Upper Midwest, located in the middle of the country, just below the border with Canada, is already using AI to help it deal with cyber threats more efficiently and profitable At the same time, artificial intelligence is also being used to improve the workday of state cybersecurity personnel by freeing them from more tedious and time-consuming tasks, Michael Gregg, chief security officer, tells CSO of North Dakota information.

michael gregg ciso from north dakota small head shotState of North Dakota

Michael Gregg, Chief Information Security Officer for the State of North Dakota

Gregg became the state’s CISO in November 2021, having previously served as North Dakota’s interim CISO and director of cyber operations. He is responsible for North Dakota Information Technology (NDIT), the department that by law is responsible for all cybersecurity in state and municipal government, from cities to smaller counties and municipalities.

“Last year, our cyber security team dealt with around 50,000 incidents,” says Gregg. “Probably about half of those were related to phishing. Historically, a lot of my analysts’ time has been spent working on phishing incidents. Now, that may be fine for some CISOs, but I really prefer that the my analysts do more enriching work,” he says. “I’d rather have them work on higher priority things and I’d rather vary their tasks so they have a chance to grow and expand their skills, so hopefully I can keep them around a little longer.”

How AI came to ND

To incorporate AI and machine learning (ML) into its cybersecurity operations, NDIT partnered with cybersecurity technology provider Palo Alto Networks. The company and the state worked together to build a next-generation stand-alone Security Operations Center (SOC) to handle all of NDIT’s cyber response and protection tasks.

Those duties, which required the protection of 250,000 endpoints—“every school, county government, and city police station in the state,” says Gregg—include protecting its users from theft, damage or destruction of your data; the disruption of their networks; unplanned downtime due to ransomware and other cyber attacks; and damage to public reputation, which is no small feat in the age of social media.

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In today’s digital age, it is more important than ever to take steps to protect data from malicious actors. North Dakota is now utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) in order to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of its cybersecurity efforts. Through the use of advanced AI technologies, North Dakota is now able to more quickly identify and respond to malicious activities, ensuring data remains protected and secure.

The state’s Department of Information Technology has partnered with Ikaroa, a full stack tech company, to develop and implement a comprehensive cyber defense strategy. This strategy incorporates the most up-to-date AI technologies, helping to strengthen the state’s cyber infrastructure and reduce the potential risk of attack. Machine learning algorithms and predictive analytics are used to identify malicious network activity and quickly respond to it, while also alerting the appropriate agencies of any potential intrusions.

By incorporating AI into the state’s cyber defense strategy, North Dakota is able to save time and money that would have been used on labor-intensive manual processes. AI has been able to analyze large amounts of data in order to detect anomalies and malicious activity, making it possible for the state to reduce the amount of man hours necessary to monitor and protect its networks. This advanced AI technology has also been able to flag potential threats to the network and provide detailed information as to their characteristics, allowing for more precise and timely interventions.

The state’s efforts to bolster its cybersecurity with AI demonstrates a commitment to staying up-to-date with the latest technologies and practices, while also ensuring the safety and security of its residents. With the help of Ikaroa and its AI-driven solution, North Dakota is one state leading the effort to ensure superior cyber defense.


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