DARPA creating a visual real time battlespace for the DOD to see and counter a cyber network attack

DARPA is close to completing a visually oriented environment that’s designed to give cyber warriors instantaneous knowledge of a network attack. Under development since 2012, Plan-X marks the DoD’s first major attempt to create a cyber battle space, fundamentally shifting the way the agency addresses and responds to network attacks.

Cyber war command center

“PlanX is needed to help military commanders, planners and operators synchronize and collaborate in order to understand, plan and execute cyber operations in real time,” said Frank Pound, DARPA’s Plan-X project manager. According to Pound, Plan-X will also reduce mission planning timelines, support scalable missions, facilitate access to relevant vantage points, provide effective situational awareness and collaboration and increase trust and confidence in missions via grounded metrics and a quantification of capabilities.

Plan-X’s next big step is set for 2017, when the technology is scheduled for deployment to DoD and U.S. Cyber Command personnel. “As Plan-X successfully transitions to the Department of Defense, the end user would be military operators whose job is to conduct cyber operations,” Pound said.

Plan-X has pivoted from a heavy research focus to productization

Plan-X is a completely new, innovative concept that is gaining increased traction across the DoD, Pound said. “It leverages existing investments to amplify and democratize their utility to a much broader pool of new cyber operators,” he explained.

Plan-X provides real time cyber battlespace navigation and reasoning along with graphical plan construction. “The data model is navigable in a visual way, similar to how people natively think about relationships between common objects,” Pound said. “Under the hood, Plan-X provides a very lightweight on-demand execution environment controlled by a backend system which allows for streamlined storage and retrieval of cyber threat intelligence coming from existing cyber security products the DoD as already deployed,” he said.

Pound noted that the Plan-X data model was influenced by an executive order that mandated a common way to share cyber threat intelligence between industry, DoD and civilian cyber infrastructure. “Plan-X includes a way to easily integrate existing investments for a common cyber operations platform.

SOURCES – Federal Times, DARPA