DHS puts weight behind USC "mini-Internet" security testbed

The University of Southern California has signed a 5-year, $16 million contract with the Department of Homeland Security to expand USC's DETERlab "mini-Internet" security testbed.

The government funding will support a new project dubbed DETECT that will feature advanced cyber security techniques and tools.

DETERlab (cyber-DEfense Technology Experimental Research laboratory) boasts a 400-node network divvied up between USC's Information Sciences Institute and UC Berkeley that enables researchers to examine the impact of malware and other security threats without messing with the real Internet. The lab uses the Emulab cluster testbed software developed at the University of Utah. Dell servers, as well as Cisco and HP switches, are among the hardware underpinnings of DETERlab.

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A big push with the DETECT project will be to involve more researchers from around the world, and to interconnect with other security labs worldwide, including federal security research centers.DETERlab, which received initial funding in 2003, is also used by hundreds of students at 10 schools for class work.

Projects that have been run on DETERlab range from a 10,000-node botnet experiment to the University of Oregon's "Behavior-based Frameworks for Detecting Internet Worms."

Funding for the security research effort comes at a time when network security threats are exploding. Report after report points to organizations having their IT security compromised, such as a recent survey in which two-thirds of companies with 5,000-plus employees said they had been hit with at least one successful intrusion last year.

Word of the DETECT project funding comes on the heels of last week's groundbreaking for a $1.2 billion data center funded by the U.S. government to support data analyzation and security efforts by the National Security Agency and DHS, among other government outfits.

DETECT Bob Brown on Twitter, Facebook and StumbleUpon, and his AlphaDoggs network research blog.

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