Milos Manic, Ph.D., professor of computer science at the Virginia Commonwealth University College of Engineering, along with Idaho National Laboratory (INL) researchers Todd Vollmer, Ph.D., and Craig Rieger, Ph.D., received the Federal Laboratory Consortium Award (Far West Region) for their Autonomic Intelligent Cyber Sensor (AICS). Manic also holds a joint appointment with INL.
ACIS is an artificial intelligence solution that aims to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure from cyber attack. With no human intervention, ACIS can quickly identify and divert hackers. Working autonomously through machine learning to identify and map industrial control systems, AICS can detect irregularities in network traffic and alert operators or stop hackers altogether by deploying virtual decoys.
According to Manic, advances in machine learning applications such as ACIS are vital because systems and humans are so interconnected that, “the reality is, everything is talking to everything.” Acknowledging that these technologies raise questions about how much to trust machines to do the right thing, Manic emphasized that machines are as smart as you make them.
“We create algorithms that make decisions on their own,” he said. “We are not hard coding this anymore.” Manic’s research focuses on ways to monitor and protect large-scale cyber-physical systems as these systems grow in size and sophistication. "Governments are major users of cyber-physical systems and nuclear systems are very important examples of these. The latest algorithms are growing in their ability to learn, act and improve. This is definitely happening sooner than we thought,” he said.