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US military boffins seek bulletproof Wi-Fi network

19 Mar 2013
Toy soldiers standing on a laptop

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) plans to develop new hacker-proof wireless technologies for soldiers working in active war zones.

Darpa announced the Wireless Network Defense programme on Monday, promising it will help increase military network's defences.

Darpa programme manager, Wayne Phoel, said that the agency planned to build greater resiliance in to each node of a wireless network.

"Current security efforts focus on individual radios or nodes, rather than the network, so a single misconfigured or compromised radio could debilitate an entire network," said Phoel.

"We need to change how we control wireless networks by developing a network-based solution for current and future systems that acknowledges there will be bad nodes and enables the network to operate around them."

Darpa said current war zone network security practices are lagging behind those used in the private sector.

"Credit card companies use various indicators for trying to determine if someone has stolen your credit card and is posing as you," Phoel said.

"Unexpected purchase locations, amounts and other factors could raise an alert. Online social sites for buying and selling personal items use seller ratings to help you decide the trustworthiness of someone before you make a purchase.

"Similar concepts of reliability estimation and control methods could be applied to wireless military networks by calling out specific areas of the network that may have untrustworthy nodes."

Darpa's initiative comes during a heated debate state sponsored hacking. The debate reignited after security firm Mandiant released a report claiming to link several cyber campaigns to a Chinese military unit.

Several security professionals, including Trend Micro chief technology officer Raimund Genes have criticised businesses for over focusing on state hacking.

Genes told V3 that the debate is blinding businesses to the larger threat posed by cyber crime.

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Alastair Stevenson
About

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

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