DARPA developing VR-style hacking interface for cyberwar

27 May 2014

The US military’s leading research body, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working on a virtual reality (VR) headset that will allow cyberwar operatives to co-ordinate attacks with ease remotely.

According to Wired, DARPA has been toying with this science-fiction sounding idea for the last number of months under what it refers to as ‘Plan X’.

Using Facebook-owned Oculus Rift headsets, the organisation hopes to create a 3D interface that will make it easier for trained personnel to organise and strike against any connected network on the globe with the added visualisation that until now would have been limited to computer experts familiar with the network codes of particular targets.

Using Razer Hydra controllers for navigation, wearers can move the map as they wear the headset and, demonstrated in a proof-of-concept video by DARPA, select from a list of missions that would be listed for attack by their superior.

However, the technology involved with creating such a program is years away from completion, but speaking to Wired, DARPA’s Plan X programme manager Frank Pound explained how Plan X could be used. “Say we want to turn out the lights in some place where we have boots on the ground, but it’s on a subnet connected to a hospital.

“We want to war-game that kind of situation with high assurance, to be able to tell a commander that you can use this capability in this manner and you’ll have a 99.99pc chance of not failing … The Oculus works hand-in-hand with that war-gaming technology.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic