Information Week: DHS Invests $16M In Cybersecurity Testbed

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will invest 16 million over the next five years to expand a cybersecurity testbed at the University of Southern California (USC).

The new project, DETECT, will make improvements to USC's Information Sciences Institute's existing DETERlab, which provides an isolated 400-node mini-Internet hosted by USC and the University of California Berkeley that security researchers use to simulate the real Internet.

DETERlab is based upon a mesh of clusters of experimental nodes, each one based on the University of Utah's Emulab hardware and software, according to a white paper on the design of the testbed published online. In addition to support from the DHS, the National Science Foundation also provides funding for DETERlab.

Researchers from around the world use the testbed as a safe, controlled environment to investigate malware and other security threats without danger of infecting the actual Internet. DETERLab also is used in computer-security classroom exercises for 400 students in 10 universities and colleges.

DETECT will expand the capability of DETERlab through the development and support of new methodologies and tools for advanced cyber security research, experimentation and testing, according to USC.

DETECT also will aim to foster a cyber research community by helping other cybersecurity research sites use the DETERlab software system, according to USC. Ultimately, the plan for the project is to create an interconnected cybersecurity testbed system that can be accessed and use across academic institutions, industries, and government agencies.

Some of that community outreach has already begun. In November, the Cyber Security and Information Assurance (CSIA) Interagency Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) working group- a collaboration of more than a dozen federal research and development agencies -- endorsed the DETER cyber science framework.