Deep Red, a team of cyber experts from Raytheon Company, will be one of seven teams competing in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Cyber Grand Challenge (CGC) finals during the DEFCON conference this week in Las Vegas.
DARPA’s CGC is the first competition to pit unmanned, fully automated systems against cyberattacks.
“CGC seeks to automate this cyber defense process, fielding the first generation of machines that can discover, prove and fix software flaws in real-time, without any assistance,” DARPA says on its CGC website. “If successful, the speed of autonomy could someday blunt the structural advantages of cyber offense.”
DARPA explained that, “Today’s approach to cybersecurity depends on computer security experts: experts identify new flaws and threats and remediate them by hand. This process can take over a year from first detection to the deployment of a solution, by which time critical systems may have already been breached. This slow reaction cycle has created a permanent offensive advantage.”
DARPA launched the Cyber Grand Challenge as a computer security tournament using automated, cyber reasoning systems in place of human experts. Cyber reasoning technology will improve efficiencies and shorten the timeline for dealing with vulnerabilities from days or weeks to seconds.
DARPA’s CGC was launched in 2014 with 105 academic and industry teams. Through preliminary competitions, the qualifiers were narrowed down to seven finalists. Most competitors, including Raytheon, have entered on the ‘open track’ available to self-funded teams. The final challenge competition will be held in conjunction with DEFCON, one of the world’s largest computer security conferences.
"The Raytheon team is advancing technologies that will automatically diagnose and mitigate cyber vulnerabilities. That’s critical in the Internet of Things age, when everything in our lives is connected," said Jack Harrington, vice president of Cybersecurity and Special Missions at Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services.
Applying artificial intelligence, a cyber reasoning system can simulate the logic and thought process of a cybersecurity analyst. Raytheon said its cyber reasoning systemuses autonomous reverse engineering software, continuous machine learning and advanced analytics to ensure the code is ‘smart’ enough to keep up with evolving threats.
"Raytheon has fielded the only team from the aerospace and defense industry to advance to the DARPA CGC finals, using the same emerging, self-healing technologies we offer to our customers," Harrington said. "With critical infrastructure companies facing the daunting combination of a cyber expert shortage and an increasing number of cyberattacks, we will continue to fund our research in this field."