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DARPA transfers advanced Cyber net testing facility to DoD

A vast new Internet-like test bed that can probe complex defense and commercial critical infrastructure networks’ Cyber security-worthiness is now in the hands of the Department of Defense.

On Nov. 13, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) said it had officially transferred the National Cyber Range (NCR) it developed to the DoD’s Test Resource Management Center.

A fact sheet posted on the White House’s Web site, said the NCR “will enable a revolution in national cyber capabilities and accelerate technology transition in support of the President’s Comprehensive National Cyber-Security Initiative (CNCI).”

According to DARPA, the NCR can realistically and quickly replicate globally interconnected networks to securely test new Cyber tools and capabilities in a realistic environment. The test bed, which is actually a collection of smaller test beds that can be combined and recombined to provide larger or smaller scale experimental environments, provides the complex interaction found in real-life networks, according to DARPA. The NCR can test component to the system level events, for things like buggy code, misconfigurations, and user actions on the vast complex scale found in the real Internet, said the agency’s NCR fact sheet.

The NCR transitioned in October to the Test Resource Management Center under the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Developmental Test and Evaluation, said DARPA. The transfer came after the agency conducted tests using the NCR on seven large-scale cyber experiments for multiple DoD organizations during a one-year beta operation phase that ended in November, said the agency. 

Key benefits of the NCR, said DARPA, are the speed with which the range can be re-configured, the diversity of the networks that can be emulated, and the flexibility to handle multiple activities simultaneously at different classification levels. Given the dynamic nature of real-world Cyber threats, providing fast-turnaround time for experimentation and analysis is vital, it said.

The NCR provides a broad range of uses, like advanced Cyber research and development of new capabilities, analysis of malware, Cyber training and exercises and secure cloud computing and storage architecture, among others.

The fact sheet said the NCR would test host security systems, and local and wide area network (LAN and WAN) security tools and suites by integrating, replicating or simulating the technologies. It will also provide a large-scale Global Information Grid (GIG) infrastructure, where technologies and systems can be analyzed and tested under real world conditions in current and future environments.

The testbeds, it said, include the ability to test new network protocols, satellite and radio frequency (RF) communications, and mobile tactical and maritime communications, in order to meet the needs of DoD Services and Combatant Commands, as well as other U.S. government agencies and departments.


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