DARPA looks for stealthier Internet access

SAFER program wants technolgies that give warfighters anonymous, unfettered Web use

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is seeking technologies to enable safe and anonymous access to the Internet by the military.

In particular, DARPA is interested in technologies that “allow anonymous Internet communications to bypass techniques that suppress, localize and/or corrupt information.”

The technologies the Defense Department is interested in circumventing include IP-address filtering or "blocking," which can deny user access; Domain Naming Service hijacking, which redirects a user to a different Web site or service from what the user intended; and content filtering, which captures and analyzes the content of the user's network traffic through deep packet inspection.

The Safer Warfighter Communications (SAFER) program (DARPA-BAA-10-69) covers applications such as instant messaging, electronic mail, social networking, streaming video, voice over IP and video conferencing. DARPA’s particular technical areas of interest include measurement, circumvention and testbed and evaluation support.

However, these same tools could also be used by “those determined to get around measures designed to thwart copyright violators and extreme-porn aficionados,” wrote Lewis Page in a story posted by U.K. publication The Register.

Although block lists are used by governments to suppress dissent, and deep packet inspection might be used by enemies to analyze U.S. armed forces IP communications, “typically it's quite difficult for hostile forces to intercept the packets wholesale for deep packet inspection, let alone operate a blocklist. It's possible to think of situations where there'd be a military need for the SAFER tech, but not easy,” Page wrote.

Responses to the solicitation are due July 6. More information on the request can be found here.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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