Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/01/26/cyber_genome_project/

'Cyber Genome Project' kicked off by DARPA

The code you write - it'll be as traceable as your DNA

By Lewis Page

Posted in Security, 26th January 2010 10:22 GMT

Applecart-bothering Pentagon boffinry bureau DARPA is at it again. This time, the military scientists want to establish a "Cyber Genome" project which will allow any digital artifact - a document, a piece of malware - to be probed to its very origins.

According to an announcement put out yesterday by DARPA, the "Cyber Genome Program" will "produce revolutionary cyber defense and investigatory technologies". In detail:

Digital artifacts may be collected from live systems (traditional computers, personal digital assistants, and/or distributed information systems such as ‘cloud computers'), from wired or wireless networks, or collected storage media. The format may include electronic documents or software (to include malicious software - malware).

The Cyber Genome Program will encompass several program phases and technical areas of interest. Each of the technical areas will develop the cyber equivalent of fingerprints or DNA to facilitate developing the digital equivalent of genotype, as well as observed and inferred phenotype in order to determine the identity, lineage, and provenance of digital artifacts and users.

In essence it seems that almost any data trawled from a relevant network, a computer, a flash drive, someone's phone or whatever is to be analysed much as human genetic material now can be. The code or document's relationships with other "digital artifacts" will be revealed, perhaps its origins, and other info of interest to a Pentagon admin defending military networks or a military/spook investigator tracing online adversaries.

Or in other words, any code you write, perhaps even any document you create, might one day be traceable back to you - just as your DNA could be if found at a crime scene, and just as it used to be possible to identify radio operators even on encrypted channels by the distinctive "fist" with which they operated their Morse keys. Or something like that, anyway.

There are to be workshops for interested industrial participants shortly, but it's US citizens only. The wider world may not find out about the Cyber Genome effort unless and until it starts to produce results. ®