DARPA eyes digital fingerprints to track computer attacks

Cyber Genome Program seen as a way to improve investigation of cyberattacks

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is eyeing ways to use the equivalent of digital DNA to improve the ability to investigate cyberattacks, and the agency wants help.

DARPA's Cyber Genome Program is designed “to produce revolutionary cyber defense and investigatory technologies for the collection, identification, characterization, and presentation of properties and relationships from collected digital artifacts of software, data, and/or users to support DoD law enforcement, counter intelligence, and cyber defense teams,” DARPA said in a notice on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site. In other words, the program is meant to explore ways to solve the notoriously difficulty problem of definitively determining who’s behind a cyberattack.

DARPA published the notice to invite people from industry and academia who are interested in participating in the genome program to come to a proposers’ day conference on Jan. 29 in Arlington, Va. Would-be participants have until 5:00 p.m. EST on Jan. 27 to register.

The day is intended for people in industry and academia who are interested in bidding or participating in the project and is in support of a Broad Agency Announcement for the program, DARPA said. The workshop is to promote additional discussion, deal with questions from potential proposers, and provide a forum for teaming opportunities, the agency added.

Digital artifacts that hold key information may be collected from live systems, networks, or collected storage media, DARPA said. The program will include several technical areas of interest with each area developing “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,” according to the agency.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Thu, Jan 28, 2010

The only "Big Brother" I've seen so far in my years of govt service are the foreign governments and hackers constantly attacking our networks and stealing enormous amount of sensitive and critical information for the only reason to harm our country and to advance their own goals. Lets cut the "Big Brother" crap and wake up to the real threat. As a taxpayer, I want my government to protect our data and from been stolen. This does not include everytime my own home PC is attacked by a virus, worm, etc...

Thu, Jan 28, 2010 CMAdmin Long Beach

I'm glad they're looking into it - I have no objection tracing anything I've said or posted, but I do support tracing and punishing those who send malware, spyware, initiate DDOS attacks, deface web sites, and coordinate terrorism.

Wed, Jan 27, 2010 photojack San Diego

I don't find this creepy/scary at all! I wish they would find these hackers who spread viruses, worms and such, and SUE them for all the lost data, time and productivity! They should have to work the rest of their miserable lives, if need be, to pay back the victims of their stupid and senseless crimes. I believe in total victim restitution. Nothing less will suffice!

Wed, Jan 27, 2010

Seems like they could use this to find anybody doing anything online... can you say "Big Brother"?

Wed, Jan 27, 2010

One doesn't really need to read much between the lines to figure out what this is about. Does anyone else find this creepy/scary?!?

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