Cyber Genome program launched to bolster DOD information intelligence and cyber defense capabilities

Posted by John Keller

ARLINGTON, Va., 31 Jan. 2010. Information warfare experts in the Pentagon are asking industry for help in developing advanced cyber defense technologies to gather intelligence from digital artifacts of software, data, and computer users as part of a new research initiative called the Cyber Genome program.

Scientists at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) released a broad agency announcement (DARPA-BAA-10-36) last week for the Cyber Genome program, which seeks to develop revolutionary cyber sleuthing technologies to help U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) law enforcement, counter intelligence, and cyber defense teams.

The Cyber Genome Program, essentially, seeks to develop the cyber equivalent of fingerprints or DNA to help craft the digital equivalent of genotype, to help track down cyber terrorists, their motives, and operations.

Today's information warfare and cyber defense technologies center on custom solutions to address individual cyber threats from cyber terrorists and other information warfare threats, DOD officials say, which results in a proliferation of cyber attacks, malicious software, and spam e-mail.

This approaches give an advantage to asymmetric enemies who can develop inexpensive, evolutionary cyber warfare approaches that bypass or defeat intrusion detection and protection systems, host-based defenses, and forensic analysis.

Instead, DARPA scientists want new and powerful cyber defense and investigation technologies to collect digital artifacts from live systems such as traditional computers, personal digital assistants, and distributed information systems like cloud computing.

Specifically, DARPA scientists are interested in cyber genetics, cyber anthropology, cyber sociology, cyber physiology, and related advanced information warfare disciplines to identify thwart potential threats from computer hackers and cyber terrorists.

Cyber genetics refers to the ancestry and places of origin of digital artifacts. Cyber anthropology refers to relationships between artifacts, binaries, and users. Cyber physiology, meanwhile, refers to the reverse-engineering of machine language functionality and behaviors.

The Cyber Genome Program is a four year, $43 million program. Proposals are due to DARPA by 15 March 2010. For questions or concerns contact DARPA's Michael VanPutte by phone at 703-807-4938, by e-mail at, or by post at Michael VanPutte, DARPA/STO, ATTN: BAA 10-36, 3701 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, Va. 22203-1714.

More information is online at


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