Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List


Relating to digital systems and information

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Pittsburgh this weekend offered a look into the future of cybersecurity, with students from each of the nation’s Service academies scrambling to protect their computer systems, find adversaries’ vulnerabilities and exploit them in the second annual CyberStakes Live competition, sponsored by DARPA. More than 40 students participated in this year’s event, which tested teams’ and individuals’ abilities in numerous core cybersecurity skills and culminated in two exciting Capture the Flag (CTF) contests modeled after the global tournaments that attract many of the world’s top cybersecurity experts.
As modern software systems continue inexorably to increase in complexity and capability, users have become accustomed to periodic cycles of updating and upgrading to avoid obsolescence—if at some cost in terms of frustration. In the case of the U.S. military, having access to well-functioning software systems and underlying content is critical to national security, but updates are no less problematic than among civilian users and often demand considerable time and expense. That is why today DARPA announced it will launch an ambitious four-year research project to investigate the fundamental computational and algorithmic requirements necessary for software systems and data to remain robust and functional in excess of 100 years.
The initial phase of a DARPA program that used publicly accessible online games to accelerate the verification of software has helped produce hundreds of thousands of program annotations in common software programming languages, adding credence to the idea that digital games can be an effective means of crowdsourcing solutions to software problems. The results have inspired DARPA to launch a new round of games with the goal of extending the successes to date and learning more about the approach’s potential.
Seven teams from around the country have earned the right to play in the final competition of DARPA’s Cyber Grand Challenge (CGC), a first-of-its-kind tournament designed to speed the development of automated security systems able to defend against cyberattacks as fast as they are launched. The winners successfully squared off against dozens of other teams for the opportunity to compete head to head next year for nearly $4 million in prizes—and the chance to help revolutionize cybersecurity going forward.
Across the United States, 3200 separate organizations own and operate electrical infrastructure. The widely dispersed nature of the nation’s electrical grid and associated control systems has a number of advantages, including a reduced risk that any single accident or attack could create a widespread failure from which it might take weeks to recover. Since the late 1990’s, however, cost pressures have driven the integration of conventional information technologies into these independent industrial control systems, resulting in a grid that is increasingly vulnerable to cyber-attack, either through direct connection to the Internet or via direct interfaces to utility IT systems.