The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the agency that birthed the prototype of the Internet back in the late 1960s, on Tuesday announced yet another computing advance: the "National Cyber Range (NCR)," essentially a testing grounds for national cyber weapons, tools and security measures -- a kind of cyber firing range.
Or as DARPA alternatively describes it "a secure, self-contained facility where complex defense and commercial networks can be rapidly emulated for cost-effective and timely validation of cyber technologies," and "a new range for the cyber domain that realistically emulates complex global networks, enabling cyber researchers to test tools and capabilities."
The open announcement comes after reports that the U.S. and Israel jointly developed the malware strains known as Stuxnet and Flame in an effort to thwart Iran's nuclear program.
It's unclear whether DARPA's new testing facility will be used for anything like those projects, but the purpose of the announcement Tuesday was to note that the NCR had "executed...seven large-scale cyber experiments for multiple DoD organizations" in a test phase and had now moved the NCR over to the control of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Developmental Test and Evaluation.
Corrections: This post originally misspelled "Israel" as "Israeli" and "nuclear" as "unclear." We have since corrected the typographical errors in copy and regret them.