Plan X: Darpa's Cyberwar

DARPA will hold a conference for security professionals to discuss how to go about defending the US Internet infrastructure from attack.

DARPA, if you didn't know, stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. They're the governmental organization that develops ridiculous things like flying tanks and other science fiction. Next month, however, DARPA is hitting closer to home with "Plan X", a one-day workshop designed to flesh out the US government's strategy for war in cyberspace.

Plan X is a two-pronged affair that consists of a general-access session for your standard contractors and government employees and a secret session to map out where the US is going in the future of cyber warfare.

What will it deal with, specifically? The event won't get into research and development of cyberweapons or vulnerability analysis. It's geared towards defense: In the session, DARPA will focus on ways to "create revolutionary technologies for understanding, planning, and managing cyberwarfare in realtime, large-scale and dynamic network environments," as well as how to research the nature and history of cyberwarfare. It's all to dominate the "cyber battlespace", according to a publicly available PDF on the matter.

That all sounds very low-key for DARPA, though, doesn't it? There's more to it than that.

The program is a tool-building project that DARPA intends to use in order to develop secure operating systems, communication relays, and weapons deployment systems, among other awesome-sounding things like adaptive defense and--best of all--visual maps for cyber warfare.

The idea of a map of the Internet for use in real-time situational awareness planning and strategy for warfare is pretty much the coolest idea ever, if you don't include the 3D models of data you "navigate" through in the movie Hackers (I kid; that's lame in comparison).

The best thing about the open secret conference is that it'll be a hiring event as well, with hopefully the best and brightest in the security industry in attendance to be wowed into working for America by DARPA.

Even though I won't be there, I will keep my fingers crossed that some cool defensive research will come of this conference.

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