Military set to lay out $42M to develop advanced network prioritization, security technology

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency developing secure, highly controllable network.

BBN, which was bought by defense giant Raytheon today, got almost $11 million to help build self-configuring network technology that would identify traffic, let the network infrastructure prioritize it down to the end user, reallocate bandwidth between users or classes of users, and automatically make quality of service decisions.

The advance network technology is being developed by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and will include support for features like 32 levels of network traffic prioritization that will let data with a higher priority will be handled more expeditiously than traffic with a lower priority. 

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In a statement BBN said the technology will provide improved command and control computer network capabilities for tactical military units, letting commanders assign network resources on the basis of the mission. 

The advanced prioritization system is part of DARPA's Military Networking Protocol (MNP) program which is looking to develop an authenticated and attributable identification system for packet based, military and government data networks, the agency said. Military or government data sent with the MNP will be compatible with normal Internet equipment to allow MNP traffic to pass through legacy network or encryption equipment, DARPA said.

Not only should the prioritization scheme be radically advanced, the system should be extremely difficult to spoof or inject false traffic into, DARPA said. 

This one-year contract includes two, one-year options, which, if awarded, would bring the cumulative value of the contract to about $42 million, BBN stated. 

This contract isn't the first BBN has to develop advanced network technologies from DARPA. Last year it got $.4.4 million to develop novel, scalable attack detection algorithms; a flexible and expandable architecture for implementing and deploying the algorithms; and an execution environment for traffic inspection and algorithm execution.

The network monitoring systems is being developed under DARPA's Scalable Network Monitoring program which seeks to bolt down network security in the face of cyber attacks that have grown more subtle and sophisticated. New technologies and applications provide new attack routes and have made traditional signature-based and anomaly detection-based defensive measures inadequate in both speed and sensitivity, BBN added.

BBN has also grabbed over $30 million from DARPA over the past few years to fill out the agency's Global Autonomous Language Exploitation (GALE) program.  The goal of GALE is to translate and distill foreign language material (television shows and newspapers) in near real-time, highlight salient information, and store the results in a searchable database -- all with more than 90% accuracy by the end of the program. Through this process, GALE would help U.S. analysts recognize critical information in foreign languages quickly so they could act on it in a timely fashion.

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