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GCN : August 2014
GCN AUGUST 2014 • GCN.COM 11 Information security specialists at Geor- gia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) have developed BlackForest, an open source intelligence gathering system that aims to give cybersecurity teams advance warn- ing of pending attacks. The system collects information from the public Internet, including social me- dia, hacker forums and other sites where malware authors and others gather, GTRI said in an announcement. Connecting the information and relat- ing it to past activities can let organiza- tions know they are being targeted, help them understand the nature of the threat and allow them to prepare for speci c types of attacks. Once attacks have taken place, Black- Forest can help organizations identify the source and mechanism so they can beef up their security. BlackForest can, for example, help an- ticipate distributed denial-of-service at- tacks, which typically involve thousands of people who use the same computer tool to ood corporate websites. Black- Forest scours the Internet and taps into social media to nd evidence of the at- tackers' coordination. Similar malware innovations can be identi ed because authors often post new code to advertise its availability and seek feedback. Analyzing that code can provide advance warning of malware that may need to be addressed in the future. Individual organizations could gather the kinds of information monitored by BlackForest, but few have the resources to connect the information, the research organization said. GTRI customizes the system to gather information speci c to users and their industry segment. "The average organization doesn't have the means to crawl all of this data and put together the complex algorithms needed to identify the useful informa- tion," said Christopher Smoak, a research scientist in GTRI's emerging threats and countermeasures division. "Because we have the environment and the connectiv- ity, we have what we need to obtain this information." GTRI has developed other cyber- security systems: Apiary is a malware intelligence system that helps corporate and government security of cials share information about the attacks they are ghting. Phalanx helps ght the spear phishing attacks that are carried out by tricking email recipients to open malware-infected attachments or follow malicious web links. • Georgia Tech develops early warning system for attacks Researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency recently demonstrated a "system on a chip" (SoC), an all-silicon, microchip-sized wireless transmitter that military experts say will ultimately provide connectivity faster to more troops and at lower cost. "What normally would require mul- tiple circuit boards, separate metal shielded assemblies and numerous I/O cables, we can now miniaturize onto one silicon chip about half the size of an adult's thumbnail," said DARPA program manager Dev Palmer. Researchers at DARPA's Ef cient Linearized All-Silicon Transmitter ICs program were able to demonstrate performance of the chip at 94 GHz, the rst time an all-silicon chip has achieved such a high frequency, ac- cording to DARPA. Many existing compact, high-data- rate millimeter-wave wireless systems use integrated circuits (ICs) made with gallium arsenide or gallium nitride, which provide high power and ef ciency but are costly to pro- duce and dif cult to integrate with electron- ics that provide most other radio functions, according to DARPA. In contrast, silicon ICs are less expen- sive to make at high volume but until now have not shown the power and ef ciency at the millimeter-wave frequencies used in military applications, including radar and guidance systems. The DARPA breakthrough will lead to "new design architectures for future military RF systems," Palmer said. The all-silicon SoC transmitter uses a digital power ampli er that dynami- cally adapts its performance to chang- ing signal requirements, a key goal of transmitters designed to quickly deliver large amounts of data on the emerging, net-dependent battle- eld. "This SoC can support a range of modulation formats, so it's possible to com- municate to multiple systems using differ- ent waveforms from a single silicon chip," Palmer said. "Its ef cient silicon construction will sig- ni cantly reduce SWAP [size, weight, and power] requirements for millimeter-wave applications, includ- ing compact satellite communications ground terminals for frontline troops. • DARPA 'system on a chip' to broaden connectivity of troops DARPA.MIL SoC technology consolidates the functionality of cables and shielded assemblies on one thumbnail-sized chip.