To help organizations manage cybersecurity risks, NIST maintains a National Vulnerability Database (NVD)—a critical tool for government agencies and companies to monitor and patch software. As chief cybersecurity advisor, Donna has helped lead the effort to apply IBM Watson to augment NIST’s human analysts as they handle a growing workload, with new vulnerabilities discovered daily. Using a broad range of Watson technology including Watson Natural Language Classifier, Watson Natural Language Understanding and Watson Knowledge Studio, NIST analysts can focus on the most demanding work: discovering new classes of vulnerabilities and generating new threat models.

What has your organization achieved with AI?
The National Institute of Standards and Technology is testing Watson to accelerate the categorization, characterization and scoring of common software vulnerabilities and exposures. The solution automates data analysis related to well-known vulnerabilities. As the volume, variety and velocity of vulnerabilities increases, this tool can free up human analysts to concentrate on new challenges and generate new capabilities for the National Vulnerability Database.

What advice would you share with others who are considering using AI?
It is important to consider protections for the entire AI system including the data sets, algorithms, outputs and the underlying platform. Without properly protecting each of these components, it is difficult to have confidence in the system.

Why should women be more involved in the creation and use of AI?
In order to maximize the benefits from AI, we need to have diversity in the teams that are building the foundational components. Each individual can bring both expertise and experience that provide the ingredients for innovation.

What’s the best career advice you’ve received?
To innovate, you must be a good listener.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Sometimes it’s better to be the quietest person in the room.

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