US Army gives people access to previously secret cyber-defence software

2 Feb 2015

A team of cyber-security students at the West Point military academy. Image via Flickr/West Point

Rather than making its discovery tools a matter of state secrecy, the US Army has taken the unprecedented step of releasing its secret weapon in the fight against cyberwarfare online as an open-source tool.

The tool which is called Dshell has been used by the US military for almost five years now as they come under increasing attack from individuals, hacker organisations and even nation states.

Now however, as part of the GitHub project, they are looking to expand the reach of its software to other nations, as well as make it a beta test of-sorts to allow people to report any major vulnerabilities or error in its code.

The software was quietly placed on GitHub last December but in the intervening period, only 100 people have downloaded the software, but has garnered approximately 2,000 views spanning 18 different countries, according to ScienceBlog.

Choosing GitHub as the place to release the files is no accident given its stature as one of the most visited sites by software developers looking to share and find some of the latest code behind a multitude of different projects.

Speaking to ScienceBlog, William Glodek, network security branch chief with the US Army Research Laboratory, sees the next six months as being very important for the development of Dshell, “The success of Dshell so far has been dependant on a limited group of motivated individuals within government. By next year it should be representative of a much larger group with much more diverse backgrounds to analyse cyber-attacks that are common to us all.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic