• United States



Imitation Internet: The Cyber Defense Technology Experimental Research Network

Feb 01, 20042 mins
Data and Information Security

DHS and the NSF found a joint research venture.

How do you train soldiers to fight in battle and astronauts to survive in space? Simulation. At the University of Southern California, the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) is using that technique to test widescale cybersecurity technologies that could safeguard the Web from a major outage. The 1,000-computer test lab has constructed its own mini-Internet to practice on. The purpose is to provide an environment that mimics the real Internet so that researchers can simulate worm and virus outbreaks and denial-of-service attacks, and then figure out how to defend against them.

The new lab is part of a U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and Department of Homeland Security project called the Cyber Defense Technology Experimental Research network. The project is funded by a three-year, $5.5 million grant from the NSF and DHS, and will eventually grow to include labs at the University of California at Berkeley and a third ISI facility in Arlington, Va., according to Stephen Schwab, a senior research scientist with Network Associates’ McAfee Research labs, which is helping launch the network.

Models of how different nodes on the Internet connect to each other will give scientists a reliable foundation to test different security techniques. “We have only an imprecise understanding of [the Internet’s] topology. As we try to understand how defensive technology will work, we need better models of how factors on the Internet come together,” says Schwab.

Initial experiments will begin around June 2004. After those are complete, the test network will be opened to security researchers around the world.