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.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.