recommended reading

Military cyber range moves from laboratory to deployment

Defense Department file photo

A test range for Defense personnel to hone computer attack capabilities is slated to receive a multimillion dollar boost as the system transitions from the Pentagon research wing’s laboratories into deployment.

The platform, created under a program called the National Cyber Range, is providing infrastructure for the Pentagon to advance its drive to develop more offensive tools that will hunt down intruders and thwart computer attacks. Defense intends to award $80 million to Lockheed Martin Corp. for five years to support operations at the facility, contract databases indicate.

The range, housed in a “specially architected sensitive compartmented information facility with appropriate security protocols,” is equipped with custom-configured government and Lockheed Martin-owned hardware and software, federal databases reveal. The test lab, a mini-model of the public Internet and other institutional networks, “provides for the modeling of cyber attacks,” a special notice reveals.

The lab will allow the Defense Department to test and evaluate the impact of cyber attacks. The notice, in a signal that the range could plausibly serve as a launchpad for offensive campaigns, notes that it will support efforts to “simultaneously execute parallel events at multiple security levels (unclassified through Top Secret) as required.”

The range, originally developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, was transitioned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense Test Resources Management Center for operations this year, federal documents reveal.

The push comes as the Pentagon gears up for a funding initiative called Plan X to support the development of technology that can bolster the government’s attack capabilities in the digital domain. “The objective of the Plan X program is to create revolutionary technologies for understanding, planning, and managing cyberwarfare in real-time, large-scale, and dynamic network environments,” contract documents unearthed by NextGov earlier this year indicated.

The test range has been brewing for at least three years. Then-Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn III, had introduced the cyber range as “a model of the internet” that would allow Defense to test capabilities in a 2010 speech in Brussels. In his address, he spoke about the limitations of defensive approaches – such as using intrusion detection services and patching software -- to protecting sensitive networks, and advocated the need for more active approaches that would allow the government to find players infiltrating sensitive networks and neutralize malicious code.

Parties that helped develop the range include Johns Hopkins University, Sparta Inc., and Lockheed Martin, various federal notices indicate.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    View
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.