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We investigate artificial intelligence and machine learning methods for optimizing the adversarial behavior of agents in cybersecurity simulations. Our cybersecurity simulations integrate the modeling of agents launching Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) with the modeling of agents using detection and mitigation mechanisms against APTs. This simulates the phenomenon of how attacks and defenses coevolve. The simulations and machine learning are used to search for optimal agent behaviors. The central question is: under what circumstances, is one training method more advantageous than another? We adapt and compare a variety of deep reinforcement learning (DRL), evolutionary strategies (ES) and Monte Carlo Tree Search methods within Connect 4, a baseline game environment, and on both a simulation supporting a simple APT threat model, SNAPT, as well as CyberBattleSim, an open-source cybersecurity simulation. Our results show that when attackers are trained by DRL and ES algorithms, as well as when they are trained with both algorithms being used in alternation, they are able to effectively choose complex exploits that thwart a defense. The algorithm that combines DRL and ES achieves the best comparative performance when attackers and defenders are simultaneously trained, rather than when each is trained against its non-learning counterpart.
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