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An Exclusive Look Inside Darpa's Plan to Visualize Cyberoperations

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A graphical representation of elements of a cyberoperation on Plan X.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has launched a new project called Plan X aimed at visualizing cyberoperations.

Credit: DARPA

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working on a new project it calls Plan X that would visualize the often highly abstract world of cyberoperations.

Those who work in cybersecurity today deal almost exclusively in strings and sets of numbers and letters. The goal of Plan X is to transform those reams of alphanumeric data into vivid graphics and three-dimensional visualizations that can be quickly and easily understood, and that operators can interact with as though they were using a smartphone or other mobile device.

The visualizations would enable specialists to assess the health of a network at a glance, and easily identify and address potential problems. For example, a military specialist could counter an attack by dragging a block of code off a virtual shelf onto a visualization of the attack.

The program also aims to make cyberoperations much more efficient. Researchers expect that with Plan X they could write, test, and deploy a mission in as little as 72 hours, whereas today such a task can take months.

Plan X has a budget of $125 million and is expected to last four years.

From The Christian Science Monitor
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