Plan X – Cyberwarfare Plan Centralized Under DARPA Project

Fox News is reporting on a DARPA-created cyberwarfare plan called “Plan X” that was released in a broad agency announcement. The plan is aimed at creating a playbook for deploying cyberweapons and running it from an Arlington VA management center. DARPA – yes the same DARPA that is credit with inventing the internet – has released a document titled “Foundational Cyberwarfare (Plan X)” that outlines the goals of centralizing cyberwarfare operations, with a focus among other on how cyberspace is interconnected and further looks at deployment of a cyberwarfare platform – complete with communications systems, metrics, deployment, and defense mechanisms. Specifically, the Plan X program seeks to integrate the cyber battle space concepts of the network map, operational unit, and capability set in the planning, execution, and measurement phases of military cyber operations.

“The Department of Defense (DoD) has developed superior capabilities over decades in the physical domains of land, sea, air, and space,” the document explains. “When called upon, the U.S. military must have equally superior capabilities to rapidly plan, execute, and assess the full spectrum of military operations in cyberspace.”

This is extraordinary because there has been little confirmation that any actual cyber operations were tactically being carried out by the US at all. In fact, there has been continued denials and no-comments from the very top on US involvement with Stuxnet, Flame, and other discovered cyber-war tools discovered in the recent past. Despite those denials, the alignment between some state-sponsored manufacture has been obvious and fraught with details of related code and common opposition targets. “Plan X” indicates a significant move to a unified security and cyberweapon base of capabilities is underway.

“The Plan X program seeks to integrate the cyber battlespace concepts of the network map, operational unit and capability set in the planning, execution, and measurement phases of military cyber operations,” DARPA sources told FoxNews.com.
The heart of Plan X is a new graphical view of cyberspace not unlike a large-scale computer game — “World of Warcraft” for the Army — showing ongoing operations and real-time networking data.

The cyberspace map will contain a real-time rendering of the world of computers and detailed interconnection map of the components that connect cyberspace – such as routers, switches, and so on. The 52-page plan is surprisingly specific and comprehensive with tiered details throughout.

Functional technology represents all the other types of technology that affect computers and networks. For example, rootkits, keyloggers, network scanners, denial-of-service, defense evasion, network/host reconnaissance, operating system control, and effect measurement. The larger the functional technology set a military planner can leverage, a larger variety of plans can be developed by combining functional components.
Communication technology provides a way for entry nodes, support platforms, and system capabilities to exchange information. Examples of this type of technology include malware command and control methods, such as DNS, peer-to-peer, and HTTP SSL connections. Each technique has unique capabilities in terms of channel detection, max bit rate, and latency. It is important to note that depending on the communication technology that a military planner uses, the plan may have inherent limitations in terms of timing, sequencing, and the amount of data communicated between nodes.

It is further believed that this project will extend defensive capabilities of the private sector. With the cyberdefensive nature of the network and internetworking maps that are expected from the project, the advantages that emerge could potentially give organizations better knowledge of how to protect their infrastructures – everyone from network backbone providers, antivirus services, in-house security teams, to financial and core institutions, – everyone stands to gain from such a structure of information so long as it is done correctly. This could be one of the most significant security developments to have happened to date.

About John Casaretto

SiliconANGLE's CyberSecurity Editor - Have a story tip or feedback? Please reach out to me! Security is as critical as ever and our mission is to uncover those stories that will help our industry be more secure.