In recent months, groups like LulzSec have shown that no one is safe from cyber attacks. In an effort to help individuals ward off Web-based threats in the U.S., the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing a virtual firing range that could be online as soon as next year, [Reuters](http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/16/us-usa-cybersecurity-attacks-idUSTRE75F5RY20110616) reports.()
The program, dubbed [National Cyber Range](http://www.whitehouse.gov/files/documents/cyber/DARPA%20-%20NationalCyberRange_FactSheet.pdf), will be a sandbox for virtual warriors to hone their skills. According to Reuters, it will be operational by mid-2012—to the tune of $130 million.
The National Cyber Range has been in the works since 2008, when the Pentagon approached contractors to build the program. In January 2009, Lockheed Martin, itself a recent cyber-attack victim, was awarded a $5.4 million contract for the initial development of the National Cyber Range. The company was then awarded $30.8 million in February 2010 for phase two.
The National Cyber Range will be a collection of “testbeds” that can be used for standalone drills or as parts of larger operations. Reuters said one of the major aims of the NCR is to run multiple classified and unclassified experiments very quickly, requiring a system that can delete data and reboot as fast as possible after a test.
Reuters pointed to two other cyber-related programs DARPA has in the works: Clean-slate Design of Resilient, Adaptive, Secure Hosts ([CRASH](http://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/I2O/Programs/Clean-slate_design_of_Resilient_Adaptive_Secure_Hosts_%28CRASH%29.aspx)) and Cyber Insider Threat ([CINDER](http://www.darpa.mil/Our_Work/I2O/Programs/Cyber-Insider_Threat_%28CINDER%29.aspx)).
CRASH is focused on designing new computer systems that are resistant to cyber attacks and can adapt over time, while CINDER is focused on detecting espionage hidden on computer networks. CINDER evolved out of last year’s WikiLeaks scandal in which Army analyst Bradley Manning was arrested for giving information to the whistleblower Web site.
DARPA is also developing the “Cyber Genome” which will be able to automatically discover, identify, and analyze malicious code which can help identify the perpetrator, Reuters said.