DARPA: Calling all cyber geneticists

Technology sought would develop cyber equivalent of DNA to identify cyberattackers

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking for technologists who can think like scientists to develop and use the cyber equivalent of fingerprints or DNA to pinpoint the origins of a cyberattack.

DARPA’s Cyber Genome Program is a four-year, $43 million program in which the agency will fund projects that make use of digital artifacts collected from computing systems, storage media and networks to “produce revolutionary cyber defense and investigatory technologies,” according to a broad agency announcement published Jan. 28. DARPA officials said they plan to make multiple awards under the program.

In particular, they are looking for technical research on:

  • “Cyber Genetics” to create lineage trees for a class of digital artifacts to gain a better understanding of software evolution and aid in software and/or malware attribution.
  • “Cyber Anthropology and Sociology” to investigate the social relationships between artifacts and the interactions between system users and software.
  • “Cyber Physiology,” which will involve developing technologies that can conduct automated analysis of binary software to assist analysts in understanding its function and intent.

“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,” according to the announcement.

The agency is taking questions on the project until Feb. 10, and an initial deadline for submissions is March 15. The final closing date is Sept. 29.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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