Virtual Battlefield The Answer To Real Threats - InformationWeek
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10/31/2003
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Virtual Battlefield The Answer To Real Threats

Lab will let researchers mimic hacker attacks and test security tools

The battle against hackers is going virtual. The U.S. Department of Justice has awarded Iowa State University a grant worth nearly $500,000 to build an Internet-Scale Event and Attack Generation Environment, or ISEAGE, a lab where "virtual battlefields" will be created. Researchers can conduct computer attacks as if they occurred over the Internet and test how well security tools thwart those attacks.

"ISEAGE gives us a chance to try complex attacks that you wouldn't be able to attempt on the real Internet," says Doug Jacobson, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the lab.

ISEAGE will explore how to protect computer-controlled critical government and private infrastructure such as power grids, transportation, and water systems from large-scale coordinated attacks, such as those launched by attackers working simultaneously around the globe. ISEAGE will have the capability to study attacks with tens of thousands of attack points; a normal lab typically can study only a few attack points, Jacobson says.

Jacobson estimates the total cost of the lab at between $3 million and $5 million. The lab will begin operations early next year, with the goal of becoming fully operational in early 2005.

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