Pentagon building Internet simulator to practice cyberwar

The US military is building a model of the Internet so it can practice cyberwarfare games.

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The US military is building a model of the Internet so it can practice cyberwarfare games.

The project, which will be live by next summer, will include software that mimics human behavior under varying military threat levels, according to reports.

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.

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 Compartmentalised 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 authorises to conduct cyber testing at any authorised 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.

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