The government has awarded £1.4m to Airbus UK to build a virtual cyber command centre to help the Ministry of Defence (MoD) understand and counter cyber threats. The service includes the development of 3D virtual reality tools to interrogate data.
The funding has been awarded by the government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and the project will be headed up by Airbus Group Innovation UK, the manufacturer's technology research arm.
Specifically the Virtual Cyber Centre of Operations (VCCO) is designed to give the MoD an insight into the threats to its network and see them in the context of its wider networks to better coordinate responses.
It will also allow commanders to call on the expertise of cyber security firms and individuals anywhere in the world and provide access to the system so that threats can be monitored as they develop.
Dr Kevin Jones, research team leader for cyber operations at Airbus Group Innovation, told V3 it was important that data was brought together in a single system as cyber security management is increasingly becoming a like a “jigsaw” and so bringing together as many pieces of data in one place is vital.
“This is a multi-level project that brings together a raft of tools for communication and collaboration. This will include data from sensors, systems logs and network traffic to present it in a single unified environment,” he said.
The 3D element of the project is clearly the most interesting, with Airbus demonstrating it with an Oculus Rift headset to show how users can “immerse themselves” in the data being gathered.
Jones said Airbus already has a proof of concept in operation within its own research divisions and the hope it to create a version to run on the Dstl’s systems for a full demonstration suite by 2017.
Ben Parish, DSTL's cyber situational awareness capability adviser, said it is vital that such capabilities are developed as the cyber threat facing the armed forces mounts.
“Cyber technologies are constantly evolving and it’s crucial for the UK’s armed forces to keep abreast of these developments,” he said.
“The research into the VCCO concept contributes to the MoD’s understanding of how to be resilient to cyber attacks and be better able to protect our interests in cyberspace.”
The cyber threat to the military is rising all the time. A government report in 2013 revealed that the MoD had lost data during a hacking incident, although no details about the attack or the stolen information were made public.
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