Monday, March 1, 2010

Lockheed seeks to predict cybersecurity threats

Lockheed Martin Corp, the No. 1 information technology provider to the U.S. government, is working hard to better predict and protect against increasingly sophisticated and stealthy cyber attacks.

Lockheed, also the Pentagon's biggest contractor, is opening a second internal security intelligence center in Denver this week to complement the one it opened in May 2008 in Gaithersburg, Maryland, north of Washington.

Some analysts and software developers at the Gaithersburg center starred in a video Lockheed recently posted on YouTube, (here), which portrays the cyber security problem as a complex chess match between U.S. government and industry on one side, and a host of smart attackers from nation states and criminal groups on the other.

"It is a cat-and mouse game between the two sides," said Eric Hutchins, a Lockheed cyber intelligence analyst. "They're constantly trying to develop new ways of attacking us and we're constantly trying to develop new ways of defending us."

Cyber attacks are becoming more sophisticated, persistent, stealthy and targeted, Lockheed officials say, which points to greater activity by nation states and more criminal entities rather than the random, individual activities of the past.

Hitchens said Lockheed's analysts were processing 1 million "incidents" a day, trying to sort through the "white noise" to identify the highest-risk activities as well as possible patterns and likely targets. He declined to say what percentage of those events could be considered high-risk.

"The threat is increasing so fast and the impact is becoming more important that ... we have to be very creative and innovative and pick up our game," said Curt Aubley, chief technology officer, of Lockheed's NexGen Cyber Innovation and Technology Center (NexGen), a cyber research and development center that opened at the Gaithersburg facility in November.

The 25,000-square-foot center, built by Lockheed and a long list of corporate partners for nearly $17 million, features large open spaces for collaborative work by Lockheed, its partners and customers like NASA and other federal agencies.

It allows live technology exercises and is the anchor for a new live cyber "test range" that allows testing of software resilience in real and simulated environments. The cyber range is due to be completed by the end of the year, officials said.

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