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DARPA Launches 'Plan X' to Sharpen Cyber Weapons

The secretive Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is launching a new effort called 'Plan X' to improve its cyber-warfare capabilities, according to the Washington Post.

DARPA's mission is to develop technologies for the U.S. military in the name of national security. According to the Washington Post, the effort represents a shift in the priorities of the agency, whose past activities in cyberspace have been more focused on protecting defense department computers. In November, DARPA announced a research initiative to improve authentication mechanisms.

The five-year, $110 million research program will begin seeking proposals this summer, according to the report. Its goals will include creating an advanced map that details the billions of devices connected to the Internet so that military commanders can identify and disable targets.

A digital battlefield map would plot nodes on the Internet and changes as cyberspace changes.

“In a split microsecond you could have a completely different flow of information and set of nodes,” Kaigham J. Gabriel, acting director of DARPA, told The Washington Post. “The challenge and the opportunity is to create a capability where you’re always getting a rapid, high-order look of what the Internet looks like — of what the cyberspace looks like at any one point in time.”

Another goal will be creating an operating system capable of launching attacks and surviving counterattacks by enemies – what officials called the cyberspace equivalent of an armored tank, the Post reports.

In related news, an upcoming book reports that Pres. Barack Obama ordered cyber attacks targeting Iran in order to disrupt Iran's nuclear ambitions. The book, written by New York Times chief Washington correspondent David Sanger, said Obama approved the use of Stuxnet, accelerating plans developed during the administration of former President George W. Bush.