DARPA to Hackers: Help, Please?

The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is credited with helping to create the modern Internet, used a conference to call on hackers and other visionaries to help save it.

The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is credited with helping to create the modern Internet, used a conference to call on hackers and other visionaries to help save it.

DARPA’s Director, Dr. Regina Dugan used a speech at the DARPA Colloquium on Future Directions in Cyber Security in Arlington, Virginia, to call on  “visionary hackers, academics, and professionals… to change the dynamic of cyber defense.” 

Dugan said the wave of malicious cyber attacks represent an existential threat to the Internet and have real world ramifications on civilian and military systems.

“Why, despite investing billions of dollars in security, does it feel like we are losing ground?” Dugan asked the audience of beltway and government security experts. The answer, she and others said, is that the government and military are not engaged directly with the threats facing them.

The conference was billed as a frank discussion with the cyber community. It brought together roughly 700 leaders from the armed services, as well as the private sector contractors and hackers for hire. Dugan and other Pentagon and government officials and industry leaders, including former White House Cybersecurity Czar Richard Clarke attempted to define and redefine the threats facing government and military networks. In speeches that were equal parts public relations and team building that cyber defense and offense were top priorities for DARPA and that Congress, rather than DARPA, would eventually govern and oversee the use of any cyber capabilities discovered in the course of their research.

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