Elite DARPA cyber heroes will protect interwebs

'We invented it, we'll save it'

DARPA is upping its cyber game in order to protect the internet it came up with, increasing its research budget from $120m (£74.6m) to $188m (£117m) for the fiscal year 2012.

“DARPA’s role in the creation of the internet means we were party to the intense opportunities it created and share in the intense responsibility of protecting it. Our responsibility is to acknowledge and prepare to protect the Nation in this new environment,” Regina E Dugan, DARPA director, said in a canned statement.

“We need more and better options. We will not prevail by throwing bodies or buildings at the challenges of cyberspace. Our assessment argues that we are capability limited, both offensively and defensively. We need to fix that.”

Dugan was speaking at DARPA's Colloquium on Future Directions in Cyber Security, where the agency also announced an elite cyber team of experts to combat online threats. The cyber-defence crack team come from the white hat hacker community, academia, labs and non-profits, major companies, and of course, the defence and intelligence communities.

“I should emphasise that national policymakers, not DARPA, will determine how cyber capabilities will be employed to protect and defend the national security interests of the United States," Dugan said. "But the Agency has a special responsibility to explore the outer bounds of such capabilities so that our Nation is well prepared for future challenges.”

According to DARPA's Cyber Analytic Framework – a detailed investigation into the current state of US cybersecurity – the current strategy isn't going to work out in the long term.

Over the last 20 years, information security software packages have grown from thousands of lines of code to nearly 10 million lines, while malicious software tends to be around 125 lines. This strategy needs to continue for the moment because it gives the country "tactical breathing space".

"But if we continue only down the current path, we will not converge with the threat," Dugan said. ®

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