DARPA working on US$130m ‘virtual firing range’

20 Jun 2011

The US’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is reportedly working on a National Cyber Range, a “virtual firing range”, to defend information networks.

According to Reuters, the National Cyber Range will be a replica of the internet, letting scientists test how successfully they can stop foreign or domestic attacks on networks.

The range will help carry out independent drills or will be used for larger purposes.

It also aims to train digital warriors, such as the US military’s Cyber Command, and perfect advanced technology, such as new network protocols and satellite and radio frequency communications, to defend their networks.

DARPA will select a company to operate a prototype test range for the year. Lockheed Martin Group was initially awarded a US$30.8m contract to develop a prototype in 2010 and could be up for the contract. The IT provider was also subject to an attack on its servers.

The National Cyber Range will run classified and unclassified experiments in days as opposed to weeks.

The cyber range will be fully operational by mid-2012, costing US$130m


US President Barack Obama has asked Congress for more than US$250m to fund DARPA’s projects throughout the year.

Along with the National Cyber Range, DARPA is working on other initiatives for cyber defence, such as CRASH, a programme which would design computer systems which evolve over time, and CINDER, which would help monitor military networks by improving threat-detection from people authorised to use them.

Another project is called Cyber Genome, which automates the discovery, identification and characterisation of malicious code to help discover who was behind a hack.