[ISN] Cyberwarfare: Darpa's New 'Space Race'

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Fri May 02 2008 - 01:10:00 PDT


By Sharon Weinberger 
Danger Room
May 01, 2008

The Defense Advance Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, was created 50 
years ago, in response to the Soviets' launch of Sputnik. In less than a 
year, Darpa put together the infrastructure that guided the American 
space effort for decades to come. Now, Darpa has been given new marching 
orders: to help America fight and win battles online.

Under a directive signed by the President -- and OK'd by Congress -- 
nearly every arm of the government's security apparatus is starting work 
on a massive national cybersecurity initiative, designed to protect the 
United States from electronic attack (and strike at adversaries online, 
as well).  Darpa's role: Create a cyberwarfare range where all these new 
forms of electronic combat can be tried out.  According to a defense 
official familiar with the program: "Congress has given DARPA a direct 
order; that's only happened once before -- with the Sputnik program in 
the '50s."

Danger Room's sister blog, Threat Level, has a good writeup of the 
cybersecurity initiative, which has been labeled as a Manhattan 
Project-type effort (a similar label was used for the Pentagon's work 
against IEDs, though it's not clear the parallel is as real as some 
might hope). In the case of cybersecurity, there is at least talk of big 
money: about $30 billion, Danger Room is told.

For its part, Darpa's "National Cyber Range" would create a virtual 
environment where the Defense Department can mock real warfare, both 
defense and offense.

Darpa today issued an announcement, describing how the range would be a 
test where the government could:

    . Conduct unbiased, quantitative and qualitative assessment of 
      information assurance and survivability tools in a representative 
      network environment.

    . Replicate complex, large-scale, heterogeneous networks and users 
      in current and future Department of Defense (DoD) weapon systems 
      and operations.

    . Enable multiple, independent, simultaneous experiments on the same 

    . Enable realistic testing of Internet/Global-Information-Grid (GIG) 
      scale research.

    . Develop and deploy revolutionary cyber testing capabilities.

    . Enable the use of the scientific method for rigorous cyber 

This is clearly a serious deal for the agency: Darpa Director Tony 
Tether is a scheduled speaker at the proposers' day workshop scheduled 
for mid-May, and apparently plans to help handpick the contractors 
(Tether is known for his close involvement in Darpa contracts, but this 
level of detail is apparently somewhat unusual, we're told).

It also looks like many of the details surrounding this program will be 

-- Sharon Weinberger and Noah Shachtman

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