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Pentagon building Internet simulator to practice cyberwar

A model of the Internet where the Pentagon can practice cyberwar games -- complete with software that mimics human behavior under varying military threat levels -- is due to be up and running by this time next year, according to a published report.

Called the National Cyber Range, the computer network mimics the architecture of the Internet so military planners can see the effects of cyberweapons by acting out attack and defense scenarios, Reuters says.

Planning for the Cyber Range was carried out by Lockheed Martin, which won a $30.8 million Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) grant, and Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, which won $24.7 million.

MORE CYBERDEFENSE: US military sharing secret cyberthreat info with defense contractors

The description of the range as issued by DARPA calls for a flexible test bed that can mimic government, military and commercial networks as well as "human behavior and frailties." The human behavior simulation has to be able to respond as a person would under defense readiness condition (DefCon) and information operations condition (InfoCon) as well as carry out execution of war plans.

Cyber Range plans call for the ability to simulate offensive and defensive measures of the caliber that nations might be able to carry out. DARPA wants the range to support multiple tests and scenarios at the same time and to ensure that they don't interfere with each other. "The Range must be capable of operating from Unclassified to Top Secret/Special Compartmentalized Information/Special Access Program with multiple simultaneous tests operating at different security levels and compartments," according to DARPA's announcement of the project.

In addition to the public version of the project, DARPA has issued a classified appendix that sets down more requirements.

"A goal of the NCR program is to develop a toolkit that the government may provide to any party it authorizes to conduct cyber testing at any authorized facility," the DARPA Cyber Range document says.

According to the schedule for the project, Lockheed and Johns Hopkins should have produced a prototype Cyber Range for review by now. DARPA picks which one actually gets built.

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.


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