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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