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9/2/2010
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DARPA Soliciting Bids On Insider Threat Prevention

Defense Department agency to develop system that can identify and stop people from removing information from its networks.




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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched a new program aimed at quickly finding and stopping insiders from trying to steal information from Department of Defense (DoD) computer networks for use against the federal government.

To develop its Cyber Insider Threat program, or CINDER, DARPA is "soliciting novel approaches to insider threat detection that greatly increase the accuracy, rate, and speed of detection and that impede the ability of adversaries to operate within government and military interest networks," according to a presolicitation notice posted on FedBizOpps.gov.

In the notice, DARPA describes an insider threat as any within the DoD's communications or computer-network environment being performed "in support of an adversary mission or goal."

For CINDER, DARPA is taking an approach that already assumes systems and networks have been compromised. Starting from there, the agency will take a three-phased approach, it said.

In phase one, the agency will aim to understand adversary missions and their techniques to identify the threat. Phase two will work to develop a system using information from the first phase to create a system capable of identifying multiple insider threats at once. The third phase then will demonstrate the second-phase system in a real-world environment.

Multiple awards are possible under the procurement, and firms have until Aug. 25, 2011, to submit proposals.

The DoD's sensitivity to insider leaks has been heightened lately as a battle to keep classified information from making it onto the Wikileaks website intensified in recent months. Wikileaks acts as a whistleblower site and releases documents about current and controversial events that aren't otherwise available. In June, the DoD arrested a military intelligence analyst for allegedly leaking to Wikileaks the video of a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack on people assembled in a Baghdad square. The attack left two Reuters employees dead and two children wounded.

In fact, the date on the CINDER pre-solicitation notice is one month to the day of a major leak of classified documents from DoD computers. On July 25, Wikileaks released a batch of more than 75,000 files, called the Afghan War Diary 2004-2010, regarding the current conflict in Afghanistan. The files depict a war in which an alarming number of civilians have been killed and caused an outcry of criticism from the press and public about U.S. military failures in the region.

Wikileaks claims to have 15,000 more files to add to the Afghan War Diary that it has yet to release. The Pentagon has formally demanded the return of those files.

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