United States ‘Cyber Range’ Test Online Warfare Tools Of Tomorrow

Cyber Warfare

Well over 90% of the population under 50 would agree that technology has changed our lives vastly for the better. Whilst some of the older generations may be slightly technophobic still, the newer generations are almost born with a mouse it their hands. It has affected all parts of our everyday life, and there is no way we could go back now unless we were seriously forced.

However, as has been demonstrated in the past few months with the high profile attacks by hacking groups Anonymous and Lulzsec, very little is safe online these days. No matter how many expensive bits of software you invest in, there isn’t a lot you can do if someone skilled is intent on bringing you down. So if it happens to people like Sony and other multinationals with vast security budgets, what chance does the common man have? This seems to be an issue that the United States has been considering for a while, as they tend to take national security rather seriously. All of America’s big secrets, right up to above top classification, are kept on vast databanks housed in secure buildings in various locations. However, the ease with which seemingly amateur hacking groups infiltrated large companies has given governments some concern. It has recently emerged that the US has been planning to build a ‘testing facility’ for the cyber warfare tools of tomorrow, called a ‘cyber range’, and certain terminology used in interviews suggest they may have one already!

The National Cyber Range project is unsurprisingly the brainchild of the mentalists at DARPA, home of any whacky tech project you’d care to think of, and will be a huge cyber battlefield. It will consist of a walled off network, planned to be around the same size as the current internet, and populated with fictional software entities. This will then play host to numerous epic battles between teams of weapons-grade geeks, testing the latest classified programs. It is even rumoured that high profile hacking groups have been signed up for the challenge.

As far fetched as this all sounds, $10.7 million has just been paid to Lockheed Martin to develop ‘Phase II B’, including software ‘people’ like network managers and sysadmins, to provide a realistic setting. This builds upon the existing, and presumably active, ‘Phase I’. This was confirmed by a quote from the US government that included the sentence “transition of the NCR prototype capabilities to existing ranges”, which is a fairly big hint that the cyber warfare testing is on the go. It’s a slightly scary prospect and not altogether unlike the Matrix, so which do you choose, the red or blue pill?

Rob currently works for online IT collaboration advice service GuruOnline. He is a keen blogger and tech enthusiast, and loves new or secret technology and everything online.