Dead Letter Service: Improving Cyber Infrastructure and Security; Federal Cybersecurity vs. Emerging AI Security Innovations in America

Darbha, Sriram, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Wayland, Kent, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Vrugtman, Rosanne, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia
Morrison, Briana, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia

The world of technology is ever evolving, and as new innovations are implemented into our society, cybersecure infrastructure has become an invaluable commodity; however, there are apparent flaws within the private sector and federal government that hinder the development of a unified set of practices and policies in America. With issues, such as political gridlock, enterprise competition, and ethical dilemmas, there is a general question on whether developing proper cybersecurity protocols is possible, and the steps we need to take as a society to achieve it. Artificial intelligence has been on the forefront of this discussion, as its wide range of applicability and technical capabilities have made it a powerful tool within many enterprises and organizations. By using case studies and federal government policies, my research investigates how these two organizations mutually shaped each other, and how the private sector is becoming more self-reliant within artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. This analysis allows me to look into the overarching topic of my research, which is how we can establish better cybersecurity practices in America.
For my STS research, I analyzed the relationship and development of new artificial intelligence-based innovations in relation to federal cybersecurity policy, which furthered the discussion from the overarching question. Specifically, how have new artificial intelligence technological innovations associated with cybersecurity been influenced by the United States government’s role in private sector security policy? Analyzing landmark cases and policies passed within the past decade, the report documents notable evolutions in the artificial intelligence field, as well as proposes changes/improvements in the future to solidify a unified set of cyber security practices that keep the users’ best interests in mind. As many domestic enterprises continue to rely more upon artificial intelligence and machine learning for their services, the millions of users that are affected with every change show why proper policy development is crucial for domestic technological enterprises.
The development of cyber-secure infrastructure within the private sector is a complex and intricate subject to analyze in relation to the overarching topic. To generate a more holistic understanding of the topic, as well as include my experience with the developmental process, the technical report focuses on my internship project at the United Services Automobile Association (USAA). The project I worked on, named Dead Letter Service, is a new feature that searched for corrupt insurance claims and sent a daily report containing the logistics of these claims. The main objective of this project is to properly traverse through and handle large databases of vulnerable claims in a secure way, especially as these claims contain sensitive customer information. The Dead Letter Service was a project that represents the cyber-secure infrastructure projects that many companies are beginning to implement, especially in relation to artificial intelligence-based cybersecurity. The technical project was also a primary example of incrementally developing cyber-proof systems/policies within the private sector, and how enterprises can refine their security practices for the future.
Both the STS research and technical projects were successful in their own regards. As a computer science student, I wanted to research areas within the field that appealed to me, which I was able to do through my STS research. Analyzing cybersecurity and artificial intelligence not
only checked these boxes but allowed me to understand the complex sociotechnical systems behind these fields, as well as how they operate. This crucial understanding within these fields does play a prominent role in answering the overarching question, as well as the important aspects we need to consider as a society to achieve the answer. The technical project was my first exposure to private sector cybersecurity practices, which provided me with invaluable experience and insight. I did not expect the Dead Letter Service project to tie in with my STS research, but after reviewing a few case studies, it was apparent that the private enterprise’s role in user security was incredibly similar to my own project. In both aspects I achieved all that I set out to do, but there is always more that can be done. There are many more cases that can be analyzed, more shifts within the private and public sectors that can be accounted for, and many more technical systems to improve upon. While both of these projects were incredibly fruitful for my personal scope, other researchers may want to analyze different patterns and events within artificial intelligence-based cybersecurity, and using their findings, draw new conclusions/discussions on how we can establish better cybersecurity practices within America.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
cybersecurity, artificial intelligence

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Briana Morrison
Technical Advisor: Rosanne Vrugtman
STS Advisor: Kent Wayland

Issued Date: