A consortium of industry and academia, led by QinetiQ, has demonstrated innovative measures designed to protect the Ministry of Defence (MOD) from cyber attacks.
The consortium, named Enabling Secure Information Infrastructure (ESII), was brought together by MOD and comprises 23 suppliers, including major defence contractors, UK universities and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).
ESII was commissioned by MOD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to build a test bed based on restricted ‘cloud’ architecture, a software model from which multiple users can access files, programs, applications and services remotely. The architecture was then used to provide a secure collaboration environment for the test and evaluation of concepts, tools and techniques to improve Cyber Situational Awareness.
The test bed was used at Dstl’s Porton Down site from 21 March – 3 April as part of the second phase of the project to demonstrate the proposed solutions on representative unclassified and restricted networks to establish their effectiveness.
A call for proposals was launched by Dstl’s Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) to address the following areas:
- Enhanced Situational Awareness (ESA) focusing on the ability of tools and techniques that allow Computer Network Defence (CND) operators to dynamically query a distributed information repository and visualize the results in support of agile risk based decision-making.
- Countering Sophisticated Attacks (CSA) focusing on the ability to detect and report previously unreported computer network attacks in real-time.
- Decision Support for Network Defence (DSCD) focusing upon innovative ways of exploring the impact that a computer network attack can have at the business process level.
- Co-operative working for Network Defence (CWCD) focusing upon novel information sharing and interaction paradigms that facilitate agile risk based decision-making.
Nine proposals from a total of 11 suppliers were successful, and were funded for a two phase programme. The first phase encouraged suppliers to formulate the technical aspects of their proposals, leading to the production of a technical design paper which was assessed and agreed with MOD before phase two could commence. These suppliers included HW Comms Ltd, Brunel University, Northrop Grumman, University of Oxford, University of Warwick, University of Glamorgan, Cassidian Systems, Montvieux Ltd, Roke Manor Research, Thales R&T Ltd and EADS Innovation Works Ltd. Proposals ranged from solutions that could identify and counter sophisticated network intrusion attacks through to the ability to analysis and visualise information to support and improve the decision making ability of an operator.
Tim Dean from QinetiQ’s Information Assurance division said:
“Having an awareness of the situation and potential cyber threats will save costs and allow the UK to react to such threats quickly and effectively. Developing an awareness of potential cyber threats and the actions that could be taken to counter them will enable the MOD to react quickly and effectively and result in potential cost savings.”
Dario Leslie, Dstl’s head of Cyber & Influence Science and Technology Centre said:
“The ability to test in this way helps Dstl and the eleven suppliers understand the types of sophisticated threats and situations we may experience in real life under protected conditions helping the MoD to improve its capabilities in cyberspace. It is anticipated that this will lead to better prediction of the type of threat we may encounter and a more proportionate, effective reaction to such a threat.”
Notes for Editors:
- The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) maximises the impact of science and technology (S&T) for the defence and security of the UK.
- It supplies sensitive and specialist S&T services for the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and wider government, and leads and undertakes those activities that it would be inappropriate to carry out in the private sector.
- Dstl is a trading fund of the MOD and is run on commercial lines. It has a turnover of some £550 million much of which is spent in industry and academia. Dstl is the largest scientific organisation within government, with around 3,500 scientists, technologists and engineers at its three main sites: Porton Down, near Salisbury, Portsdown West,near Portsmouth, and Fort Halstead, near Sevenoaks.
- Symantec’s 2011 State of Security report - http://www.symantec.com/connect/blogs/2011-state-security-report-3300-companies-sound
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