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Defence investment targets cyber threats

Defence’s embrace of innovation across industry and academia will help deliver a cyber threat intelligence capability to predict digital vulnerability from Australian enemies.

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Mon, 28 Aug 2017
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Under the Defence Innovation Hub investment, South Australia's Data to Decisions Cooperative Research Centre (D2D CRC) is using its already designed forecasting capability Beat The News, which takes existing data and predicts events, to develop a capability to identify and treat adversary exploitations online.

Defence Connect spoke with D2D CRC's chief technology officer Brenton Cooper about the transformative research the tech start-up company is undertaking under the $1,054,000 Defence Innovation Hub contract.

"The Data to Decisions Cooperative Research Centre has been working for a while now to build up a capability that can ingest a lot of content from the internet, blog sites and forums, and then predict events based on that," explained Cooper.


"We are now taking that capability and will try to predict when a computer vulnerability actually becomes exploited. We want to let security officers know exactly what will attack their computer networks and when."

The SA company, which will be working with its partner universities for the project, will take inspiration from research undertaken in this field internationally.

"We're following closely a series of programs that have been run in the United States by a group called IARPA, so that's the Intelligence Agency Research Project Activity," said Cooper.

"IARPA is a bit like DARPA, but for the intelligence agencies. They initially ran a program called 'Open Source Indicators'. We've built a capability that mimics that program, and now they're running a research and development project to look at this cyber threat prediction, and so we're doing the same sort of thing here in Australia.

"We'll be working with some of our partner universities, including University of Adelaide and University of South Australia. There are also a couple of our industry partners that are involved in some of this work in the US that we'd like to work with."

D2D CRC's contract under the Defence Innvoation Hub is one of the latest steps Defence is taking to prepare itself for what Cooper has dubbed the next big battle ground.

"I definitely see it [cyber] as one of the biggest threats," Cooper explained.

"I think everyone's recognising that cyber is probably the next battle ground, and Defence is obviously doing a lot to prepare itself and increase its capabilities in this area.

"There's a lot going on in the background that the media and public don't hear about, so I think we're fairly well prepared and fairly well equipped."

And don't expect this to be the last you hear of D2D CRC's work with Defence, the tech start-up is already gearing up for other potential projects under the hub.

"We're always looking," Cooper said. "At the core of our business is about innovation, and applying research capabilities to defence problems. So we're currently exploring two other possible applications."

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