National Cyber Range

The Pentagon’s advanced research arm, the same group credited with developing the forerunner of the Internet in the 1960s, is working on many fronts to boost U.S. defenses against computer-generated attacks.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is building a virtual firing range in cyberspace — a replica of the Internet on which scientists can test how successfully they can thwart feared foreign- or domestic-launched attempts to disrupt U.S. information networks

Called the National Cyber Range, it will also help the U.S. government train cyberwarriors and hone advanced technologies to guard information systems.

Reuters has learned that the National Cyber Range is expected to be fully up and running by mid-2012, four years after the Pentagon approached contractors to build it. It cost an estimated $130 million.

One of these companies is Lockheed Martin Corp, the Pentagon’s No. 1 supplier by sales and itself the target of what it called “a significant and tenacious” cyber attack last month.

Lockheed, the U.S. government’s top information technology provider, was awarded a $30.8 million contract in January 2010 to continue to develop a prototype. Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory won a similar deal at that time.

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