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How the Audacious Pentagon Agency That Invented the Internet Is Now Trying to Save It

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The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is rethinking the underlying mechanisms of cybersecurity to focus on preventive measures instead of simply breach detection. "The computer security industry is basically a bunch of automated detectors set up to let us know when it's time to call the cavalry — those people who can do the job computers can't," says DARPA's Michael Walker. "And when we call in the cavalry, most of the time we've already lost."

DARPA's end goal is an automated system that spots and corrects software bugs on its own, and to that end it has invited teams of researchers, hackers, industry players, and others to vie for a $2 million first prize in the Grand Cyber Challenge. The seven finalists chosen for next year's contest include a team from defense contractor Raytheon, which has built a huge cybercenter described by one company executive as a "live-fire cyber range" concentrating on "hard-core systems engineering and hard-core vulnerability assessments."

An unhackable system may ultimately be an unachievable goal, but Walker says the Grand Cyber Challenge is an important step forward. "The great thing about trying to kick off an industry revolution is we're trying to make people believe that this is possible and set them on that course," he says.

From The Washington Post
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