Understanding the MITRE ATLAS Matrix for AI Threats

Adversarial Threat Landscape for AI Systems applies ATT&CK methodology

AppSOC Editorial Team

July 3, 2024

Understanding the MITRE ATLAS Matrix for AI Threats

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The original MITRE ATT&CK framework revolutionized cybersecurity by providing a comprehensive, structured knowledge base of adversary tactics and techniques based on real-world observations. This framework has been instrumental in helping organizations understand, detect, and mitigate cyber threats effectively. With the advent of AI and its increasing integration into various systems, the security landscape has evolved, necessitating a new framework tailored to address the unique challenges posed by AI technologies. Enter MITRE ATLAS (Adversarial Threat Landscape for Artificial-Intelligence Systems), a new matrix that extends the principles of ATT&CK into the realm of AI security. This blog delves into the significance of MITRE ATLAS, comparing it to the original ATT&CK framework and exploring how it can bolster AI security.



  • Focuses on cyber threats targeting traditional IT systems.
  • Provides a detailed mapping of adversary tactics and techniques based on real-world observations.
  • Aids in the detection, mitigation, and understanding of cyber threats through its extensive knowledge base.
  • Widely adopted across industries for improving cybersecurity defenses.


  • Targets AI systems, addressing the specific security challenges posed by AI technologies.
  • Categorizes adversarial tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) unique to AI.
  • Helps organizations understand, detect, and mitigate threats against AI models and systems.
  • Complements the original ATT&CK framework by extending its principles to AI security.

While MITRE ATT&CK has been indispensable for traditional cybersecurity, the rise of AI technologies requires a specialized approach. MITRE ATLAS provides this by focusing on the vulnerabilities and threats unique to AI systems, ensuring comprehensive security coverage in the modern technological landscape.

 The Components of MITRE ATLAS

MITRE ATLAS is built upon several key components that make it a robust tool for AI security:

1. Adversarial Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs):

  • Tactics represent the high-level objectives of adversaries, such as evading detection or compromising data integrity.
  • Techniques are the methods used to achieve these objectives, detailing how adversaries can manipulate or exploit AI systems.
  • Procedures are the specific implementations of these techniques, providing concrete examples and real-world case studies.

2. Knowledge Base:

  • ATLAS includes a comprehensive knowledge base documenting real-world examples of adversarial attacks on AI systems.
  • This repository is continuously updated with the latest research findings and case studies, offering valuable insights into emerging threats and trends.

3. Detection and Mitigation Strategies:

  • ATLAS provides detailed guidance on detecting and mitigating adversarial attacks against AI systems.
  • These strategies are tailored to address the unique challenges of AI security, ensuring effective defense mechanisms.

 The Significance of MITRE ATLAS

1. Addressing AI-Specific Threats:

  • AI systems are susceptible to unique threats such as data poisoning, model inversion, and adversarial examples.
  • MITRE ATLAS categorizes and details these threats, providing a structured framework to understand and mitigate them.

2. Enhancing AI Security Posture:

  • By leveraging the insights and strategies provided by ATLAS, organizations can enhance their AI security posture.
  • This includes improving the robustness of AI models, ensuring data integrity, and protecting against unauthorized access.

3. Facilitating Industry Collaboration:

  • Similar to ATT&CK, ATLAS fosters collaboration across industries by providing a common language and framework for AI security.
  • This collaboration is crucial for staying ahead of emerging threats and developing best practices.

4. Supporting Regulatory Compliance:

  • As regulations around AI and data privacy become more stringent, ATLAS helps organizations ensure compliance by providing detailed guidance on securing AI systems.
  • This includes adhering to standards and implementing necessary controls to protect sensitive data.

5. Enabling Proactive Defense:

  • ATLAS equips security professionals with the knowledge and tools needed to proactively defend against adversarial attacks.
  • By understanding potential threats and their corresponding tactics, organizations can implement measures to detect and mitigate attacks before they cause significant damage.

 Key Areas Covered by MITRE ATLAS

1. Data Poisoning:

  • Data poisoning involves injecting malicious data into the training dataset, causing the AI model to learn incorrect patterns.
  • ATLAS provides techniques to detect and prevent data poisoning, ensuring the integrity of training data.

2. Adversarial Examples:

  • Adversarial examples are inputs designed to deceive AI models, causing them to make incorrect predictions.
  • ATLAS offers strategies for training models to recognize and resist adversarial examples, enhancing model robustness.

3. Model Inversion:

  • Model inversion attacks aim to infer sensitive information from the AI model's outputs.
  • ATLAS details methods to protect against model inversion, safeguarding sensitive data.

4. Model Extraction:

  • Model extraction involves stealing the AI model, allowing adversaries to replicate its functionality.
  • ATLAS provides techniques to detect and mitigate model extraction attempts, protecting intellectual property.

5. Model Evasion:

  • Model evasion attacks seek to bypass the AI model's defenses, allowing adversaries to execute malicious actions undetected.
  • ATLAS offers guidance on enhancing model defenses to detect and respond to evasion attempts effectively.

 Implementing MITRE ATLAS in Your Organization

1. Assess Your AI Security Posture:

  • Conduct a thorough assessment of your current AI security posture using the ATLAS framework.
  • Identify potential vulnerabilities and areas for improvement based on the TTPs detailed in ATLAS.

2. Integrate ATLAS into Your Security Strategy:

  • Incorporate the detection and mitigation strategies provided by ATLAS into your overall security strategy.
  • Ensure that your AI systems are robust against the unique threats outlined in the ATLAS framework.

3. Collaborate and Share Insights:

  • Engage with industry peers and share insights on implementing ATLAS.
  • Collaboration is key to staying ahead of emerging threats and developing effective security practices.

4. Stay Informed and Updated:

  • Regularly review the ATLAS knowledge base to stay informed about the latest threats and mitigation techniques.
  • Continuously update your security practices based on new insights and findings.


MITRE ATLAS represents a significant advancement in AI security, extending the principles of the original MITRE ATT&CK framework to address the unique challenges posed by AI technologies. By providing a structured framework for understanding, detecting, and mitigating adversarial attacks against AI systems, ATLAS equips organizations with the knowledge and tools needed to protect their AI investments. As AI continues to play a critical role in various industries, leveraging the insights and strategies provided by MITRE ATLAS will be essential for maintaining robust security and staying ahead of emerging threats.