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What is MLSecOps?

How is MLSecOps different from MLOps?

MLSecOps refers to the integration of security practices and considerations into the ML development and deployment process. This includes ensuring the security and privacy of data used to train and test models, as well as protecting deployed models and the infrastructure they run on from malicious attacks. This can include things like implementing secure coding practices, conducting threat modeling, performing security audits, incident response for ML systems and models, and ensuring transparency and explainability to prevent unintended bias in decision-making.

MLOps, on the other hand, is a term that refers to the process of operationalizing machine learning models in a production environment. This includes things like automating the model building and deployment process, monitoring model performance and health, and scaling the infrastructure to handle large amounts of data and traffic. The focus of MLOps is on making the model development and deployment process as efficient and reliable as possible, so that models can be quickly and easily deployed to production and updated as needed. 

In practice, MLSecOps and MLOps often influence each other and work together to ensure that machine learning systems are developed, deployed, and operated in a way the prioritizes security and reliability.

This sounds like DevSecOps. How is it different?

MLSecOps is the logical extension of MLOps. This is similar to the evolution of DevOps to DevSecOps, which focuses on securing the end to end processes by making security itself a key component of the entire development workflow. MLSecOps extends this by securing the chain of events that build models, the unique tool ecosystem used by data scientists and stakeholders, and the platforms that host and execute models. MLSecOps also includes security considerations such as supply chain vulnerability assessment, access control, data privacy, model explainability, and model robustness testing.

In contrast, DevSecOps is a security practice that emphasizes collaboration between development, security, and operations teams to build security into the software development life cycle. It incorporates security into the development process through practices such as automated testing, continuous integration, and continuous delivery. If your ML solutions end up tightly integrated with your applications, MLSecOps should become another key capability pillar in your overarching security practices.

Implementing effective security measures in the rapidly evolving AI ecosystem is essential for organizations to minimize their overall risk. Companies like Protect AI can help with this by focusing on threat visibility, security testing, and remediation, along with providing specialized solutions to equip stakeholders with the necessary knowledge and tools. Adopting MLSecOps best practices can help organizations stay ahead of potential threats and ensure the security of their AI infrastructure.

Building security into MLOps workflows by leveraging DevSecOps principles, featuring Diana Kelley, CISO at Protect AI

So, what are the specific areas that MLSecOps addresses?

MLSecOps focuses on securing machine learning models and processes, while DevSecOps focuses on securing software development and delivery processes. Both practices aim to integrate security into the development process and increase the speed and efficiency of delivering secure software, but they differ in their specific focus as well as the tools and techniques to achieve that goal. MLSecOps differs from both DevSecOps and MLOps in that it focuses specifically on the security concerns that arise within ML systems. Challenges such as securing the data and models used in ML, detecting and mitigating adversarial attacks, and ensuring regulatory compliance all necessitate specialized expertise and tools beyond what is typically required for DevSecOps and MLOps practices. To further illustrate these differences, we have identified and defined five main categories within the MLSecOps domain. Here’s what you need to know.

Supply Chain Vulnerability

Machine learning supply chain vulnerability can be defined as the potential for security breaches or attacks on the various components and systems that make up the supply chain for machine learning technology. This can include issues with data storage and management, software and hardware components, and communication networks. These vulnerabilities can be exploited by hackers or other malicious actors to access sensitive information, disrupt operations, or steal valuable data. To mitigate these risks, organizations must implement robust security measures. This includes continuously monitoring and updating their systems to stay ahead of emerging threats. 

In 2021, the United States Government issued Executive Order 14028. The order requires companies in both the private and public sector to identify vulnerabilities and secure their software supply chains. This order extends to ML software supply chains, as it is crucial that the integrity and reliability of sensitive information and critical AI infrastructure are maintained and documented, ensuring that ML software supply chains are secure and free from potential threats or malicious actors.  

A robust Machine Learning Software Supply Chain Vulnerability assessment and prevention program is essential for any organization that relies on machine learning software to ensure the integrity and security of their data and operations. It can help improve your compliance with data protection and privacy regulations, enhance your reputation and customer trust by demonstrating a commitment to security and privacy best practices, and helps minimize the risk of financial and reputational damage that could result from a data breach or cyber attack that targets your ML system. For information on how to perform your own ML supply chain vulnerability assessments, contact Protect AI to learn about our platform for AI Security.

 Model Provenance

The SolarWinds hack of 2020 served as a stark reminder of the importance of ensuring the transparency, accountability, and trustworthiness of software supply chains. The attack, which compromised several U.S. government agencies and private sector companies, was attributed to a supply chain compromise that exploited a vulnerability in a software update from SolarWinds. This incident highlighted the potential risks associated with third-party software and the need for better visibility into software development, deployment, and usage.

ML models face similar supply chain threats and risks. Model Provenance can play a critical role in mitigating these risks by providing a complete history of a model, including its development, deployment, and usage. This information can help identify potential vulnerabilities in the model and ensure that it remains trustworthy. For example, Model Provenance can be used to track changes to a model over time, including who made the changes, as well as how, when, and why the changes were made. This information can help identify potential issues with the model and ensure that it complies with regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) in the USA.

As governing bodies around the world move to propose regulatory frameworks for AI, such as the European Commission's recent proposal, Model Provenance will become an increasingly crucial component of demonstrating compliance with upcoming regulations during conformity assessments. By providing transparency and accountability into the development, deployment, and usage of machine learning models, Model Provenance can help ensure that sensitive data is used responsibly and that machine learning models remain trustworthy in an era of increased cyber threats.

Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC)

The GRC category crosses over into many other categories within the MLSecOps domain. As implied above when we detailed Model Provenance, governance is a crucial aspect of machine learning, as it is critical for organizations to adhere to specific legal requirements and mitigate unique potential risks when using AI technology in various use cases. With the increasing use of machine learning, organizations need to ensure that their practices align with relevant laws and regulations, such as the EU’s GDPR. Compliance is necessary to prevent potential legal and financial consequences, as well as reputational damage that can arise from non-compliance. To achieve compliance and mitigate risks, proper data governance practices must be implemented, including monitoring and ongoing testing and evaluation of the algorithms used. These governance practices should also involve regular assessments of the fairness, transparency, and accountability of machine learning models and algorithms, to ensure that they are not biased and that they align with ethical standards. Overall, robust governance practices are critical for organizations to ensure that they are using machine learning in a responsible and ethical manner. 

The AI industry is growing at a breakneck speed and increasingly relies on machine learning models. With this growth comes the need for the industry-wide adoption of the Machine Learning Bill of Materials (MLBoM) that addresses the challenges within MLSecOps categories such as GRC and Supply Chain Vulnerability. The MLBoM provides a comprehensive list of materials and components used in the development of machine learning models; including algorithms, data sets, and frameworks. It also helps to identify potential vulnerabilities in the supply chain, such as malicious code or tampered components, that could compromise the integrity of the model. In terms of GRC, the MLBoM helps to ensure that the machine learning model complies with legal and regulatory requirements, meets ethical standards, and protects data privacy. A thorough Bill of Materials can aid in tracking the provenance of data, models, and algorithms, and ensure that they are auditable and explainable. Ultimately, the adoption of a comprehensive MLBoM can help improve the security, transparency, and accountability of machine learning systems, building trust with stakeholders and minimizing the risks of data breaches and regulatory violations.

Trusted AI: Bias, Fairness & Explainability

AI has the potential to change our world for the better in numerous ways. It can automate tedious tasks, assist in medical diagnosis, and even help us make more informed decisions about our finances. However, as the French writer and philosopher Voltaire said, with great power comes great responsibility. In contrast to its merits, AI can also perpetuate biases and discrimination if it's not developed and deployed in a responsible manner. That's where Trusted AI comes into play.

Trusted AI is a term used to describe AI systems that are designed to be fair, unbiased, and explainable. In other words, we want AI to make decisions that are equitable for all individuals, regardless of their race, gender, age, or any other personal characteristics. We also want to ensure that AI/ML doesn't perpetuate existing biases that may be present in the data or algorithms being used.

To achieve this, Trusted AI systems need to be transparent and able to provide clear explanations for their decisions. This is important because it allows humans to identify and correct any errors or biases that may exist. If we can't understand why an AI system made a certain decision, we can't trust it. By making AI explainable, we can hold it accountable and ensure that it's making decisions that are fair and unbiased.

Trusted AI is not just a buzzword - it's a necessary step towards creating a better future with the help of AI and machine learning systems. We need to ensure that we're developing and deploying systems that are trustworthy and accountable. Only then can we safely and securely reap the benefits of this technology.

Adversarial ML

Adversarial Machine Learning is a field of study that focuses on understanding and defending against malicious attacks on machine learning models and systems. These attacks can take many forms, such as manipulating input data to cause a model to make incorrect predictions, or manipulating the model itself to reduce its accuracy or cause it to behave in unexpected ways. The goal of adversarial ML is to develop techniques and strategies to detect and defend against these attacks, and to improve the robustness and security of machine learning models and systems.

To achieve this goal, researchers in this field develop techniques that can detect and mitigate these attacks in real-time. Some of the most common techniques include using generative models to create synthetic training data, incorporating adversarial examples in the training process, and developing robust classifiers that can handle noisy inputs.

If you were previously unfamiliar with the concept of MLSecOps prior to reading this article, you have likely deduced that it is an essential aspect of modern security practices for AI applications. The blend of machine learning and security operations provides a clear framework and proactive approach to effectively defending against increasingly sophisticated cyber threats.
The information provided here is merely a broad overview, and there's so much more to explore within this field. We invite you to take your exploration to the next level by joining the MLSecOps Community in Slack.

By joining the community, you'll be able to connect with like-minded individuals, share knowledge and best practices, and stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the field. We look forward to seeing you there.