This week, things got interesting at the Pentagon. The military research branch, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) showcased its latest demonstrations for Plan X. Plan X is a software platform, which is designed to unify digital attack and defence tools and transform them into a single and easy-to-use interface for hackers with the American military.
DARPA has been experimenting with using the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset to give their cyber warriors a new perspective in visualizing three-dimensional network simulations. Over the last two years, DARPA has been working to make counteracting a cyber attack as easy as playing video games.
Darpa’s Plan X program manager,Frank Pound, informed WIRED in a recent interview, “With the Oculus you have that immersive environment. It’s like you’re swimming in the Internet…You’re not in a two-dimensional view, so you can look around the data. You look to your left, look to your right, and see different subnets of information,”
The demo consisted of two motion-sensing Razer Hydra controllers for navigation and an Oculus headset. Darpa’s proof-of-concept began with a collection of “missions” to choose from. These were represented by a spherical network of computers. When one was selected the user was presented with a series of actions to carry out, such as; scanning a network or probing target endpoints for vulnerabilities. A collection of tools could be used to carry out these actions, represented by different icons. Once the user has decided what to do, then the mission is carried out. All the while, the enemy launches attacks such as distributed-denial-of-service bombardments at the user.
The Oculus demo is currently a proof-of-concept, which has been created by Frog Design and simulation software company Intific. DARPA will be experimenting with this further as they will be making a second developer version of the device, which is set to be released later this summer. Plan X will continue into 2017and it’s very unlikely that Oculus software, or any other interface like it, will be deployed into the field before then.
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