There’s a sea change underway in how the federal government—specifically the Defense Department—is going to approach cybersecurity. It’s one that’s going to create a more fluid and more complex landscape in which cybersecurity firms and technologies need to be ready to operate—a landscape in which speed can’t be sacrificed for the sake of precision, or vice versa.
That’s why in May 2021, President Biden issued an executive order mandating all federal agencies to adopt zero-trust security, i.e. requiring all users—regardless of whether they are in or outside the organization's network—to be authenticated, authorized, and continuously validated for security reasons, before having access to applications or data. The White House has also proposed relying on continuous monitoring systems to offer real-time situational awareness for larger networks operated by the Army and other federal agencies.
What if, instead of waiting for a break-in attempt, you could anticipate the break-in before it happens? The clue is cyber anomalies. Anomaly detection in cybersecurity is about identifying the odd-ball occurrences or events in the system that would suggest security mistakes, structural flaws, or outright fraud in processing data—events that open the door to a would-be hacker. The problem is systems that use machine learning to monitor for anomalies flag so many that analysts can be driven to distraction by an endlessly growing stack of false positive alerts, ranging from sudden spikes in traffic to excessive logins from remote locations—an “anomaly” that became the new norm when people were working from home during COVID-19.
Given the challenges presented by the growing scale of remote users during the COVID-19 outbreak, as as well as the mounting cyber threat, the US Army turned to the private sector for answers.
Under the direction of the office of the secretary of the Army, the Army Analytics Group (AAG) began looking at ways to break the cyber anomaly monitoring bottleneck. It was in June 2021, that AAG’s director took up an offer from Entanglement, Inc., a next-gen quantum computing and AI company founded in 2017, and Groq, Inc, a US semiconductor company, to allow the Army to try out their proprietary technology.
What Entanglement had done was to use Groq hardware and quantum-inspired software to detect anomalies three times the magnitude of previous methods. That’s according to the Army report released on October 25: while earlier AAG efforts had been able to detect 120,000 inferences per second, Entanglement and Groq’s fusion of quantum simulation and AI achieved an anomaly detection rate of 72 million inferences per second, while correlating data simultaneously to arrive at a more accurate picture of where the threat lies.
Since then, Entanglement has been to achieve 100 million inferences per second across the key workload—an approach that moves cyber threat detection to the threshold of a “total observability picture.”
This wasn’t the first time the Department of Defense had encountered Entanglement, Inc. During the COVID-19 pandemic the Pentagon validated an Entanglement platform that used a quantum simulator to optimize distribution of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) throughout the US The Entanglement platform showed a 90 percent improved performance over the algorithm that had been considered the state of the art. Entanglement then applied the same methodology to develop a vaccine distribution and administration model that might have solved Operation Warp Speed’s biggest problem, i.e. how to distribute the finished vaccine equitably and efficiently, but came too late to be adopted.
What does all this mean? Entanglement Inc. is just another indication of a larger truth, i.e. that artificial intelligence and machine learning; blockchain and quantum; are all part of a growing convergence in how we will process and protect data and develop and secure networks in the future. There is, and there will never be, a single technological fix to our cybersecurity woes. Instead, the answer will be a range of hybrid solutions, that draw on the best features of each technology.
Cybersecurity clients like the Pentagon and the federal government are waking up to the fact that, until now, we’ve been like the farmer who devises ever more sophisticated locks for his barn door after the horses have been stolen—while the thief devises ever more sophisticated lock picks. Cybersecurity solutions in the coming decade are going to look very different from their predecessors. Entanglement, Inc, is one of the companies showing us where that future lies.