I met someone recently who is involved in ‘ethical hacking’, where a company pays another company to test its cyber defences by attempting to hack into the system and expose its vulnerabilities. We have heard so many stories recently about hacking and how fragile the security systems are of some of the biggest and most trusted online companies.
This report from the BBC describes what the US government is doing to create a ‘scale model’ of the internet to carry out cyber war games:
Several organisations, including the defence company Lockheed Martin, are working on prototypes of the “virtual firing range”.
The system will allow researchers to simulate attacks by foreign powers and from hackers based inside the US.
More than $500m (£309m) has been allocated by the Department of Defense to develop “cyber technologies”.
The National Cyber Range project is being overseen by the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (Darpa), which was also involved in early network research that led to the internet.
When ready, it will function as a test-bed for defensive and possibly offensive technologies such as network protection systems.
Having a controllable mini-internet would allow researchers to carry-out experiments “in days rather than the weeks it currently takes,” Darpa spokesman Eric Mazzacone told the Reuters news agency.
The United States has been gradually increasing funding for internet security-related projects.US defence secretary Robert Gates said that the country was under almost constant cyber attacks
In 2008, the US military was the subject of a serious cyber attack when part of its network became infected by a worm known as agent.btz.
President Obama, in May 2009, declared the cyber threat to be one of the “most serious” challenges facing the country.