DARPA criticized for 'cyber range' (replica Internet) schedule

DARPA's cyber range is one of its most intriguing projects. But now it seems support is eroding.

DARPA announced in May 2008 that they'd begun work on a "cyber range," a part of a $17 billion security effort.

DARPA's "cyber range" is effectively a replica of the Internet, a "range" that could be used to test different kinds of cyber attacks in a safe environment (so tests wouldn't accidentally take down the Internet).

The project's allotted funds are around $130 million.

It's a ridiculously difficult assignment, not least because of Moore's law--advances in that space happen so quickly and so often, especially in the last few years, that it's near-impossible to keep up. Darpa, to do it right, asked for around six or seven years for the project, which would be completed in four stages.

But now, reports Aviation Week, many are unhappy with the project's progress.

Says a senior official:

“When cyber-ranges became a topic of interest, [the desire for access] exploded across the services,” says a senior official involved in the project. “Everybody wanted a range, but Darpa’s program was a 6-to-7-year effort to put a national cyber-range in place. That’s why support eroded. Everybody wanted it quicker."

In response to the long wait time, some U.S. military and intelligence agencies are even thinking of building their own mock networks. The Navy, National Security Agency, and Air Force are specifically named.

The senior official notes that the delay in the cyber range is, in the minds of some agency officials, emblematic of DARPA's lab-centric mindset.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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