Thursday, March 26, 2015

DARPA's Cyber War Games Called "PLAN X"



""The world's strongest military power intends to focus more of its massive resources on winning a future cyberwar against its strategic enemies, Russia and China, with a trio of sophisticated programs its foes cannot match.

At the head of these technologies is the futuristic "Plan X", one of three new programs that will allow the U.S. to prevail in any future cyber conflict, said Arati Prabhakar, head of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA.

"A significant advantage (in cyberspace), yes, I think that is something we can achieve," she said, "by using these tools and techniques but also having the people that know how to use them, use them to great effect."
The aim of these programs is to reverse today's current situation where the cyberattacker always has the advantage over the cyberdefender.

Plan X is designed to give the U.S. military's cyberwarriors greater visibility into their networks. It works by translating attacks into smart display graphics so they're harder to miss. It will also streamline the military's ability to defend against cyberattacks by building an "app store" where cyberoperations are stored, ready to deploy.

Plan X will give U.S. cyberwarriors instantaneous knowledge of the fact their network is being attacked. It's the first major attempt to create an actual online battle space and will fundamentally shift the way the U.S. military operates on the virtual battlefield.
DARPA said the system is so simple to use that simply moving a hand across a flat, touchscreen monitor allows a user to analyze the health of the entire network or find rogue computers not supposed to be connected to it.
Attacks will be translated into rich display graphics and 3D visualizations so it's impossible to miss them as they occur. Military specialists could defend against attacks by literally dragging blocks of code from a virtual shelf or marketplace similar to Apple's App Store onto their network.
They may one day even use 3D visors like the Oculus Rift, a video gaming headset, to launch these operations in virtual reality.

Plan X is vital to winning against state-sponsored cyber threats because protecting U.S. networks from computer attacks is as important to the military as defending the country's air, land, sea and space.
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said a potential compromise of online systems and theft of information is the No. 1 threat to US national security, more so than terrorist groups or weapons of mass destruction.

US military superiority does not carry over into cyberspace, said Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He noted the U.S. may have superior weapons and technology, but the asymmetrical nature of cyberconflict means increasingly sophisticated attackers will always have the upper hand against the defenders.
And the Pentagon is acquiring the brainy manpower to do just that. It announced last year it would triple the number of its cybersecurity professionals to 6,000 by 2016.

"The military takes young kids and gets them very confident in operating complex systems," Prabhakar said. "Can we start building tools so that with a modest amount of training, a lot of people can understand and see what's happening in cyber?"

DARPA is building another program to develop what Prabhakar describes as "provably correct software, systems that can't be hacked for specified security properties."

This program is particularly important to guard against those seeking to break into the operating systems of small unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.""

Another program is a Cyber Grand Challenge 
to automate defensive operations:

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