The U.S. Department of Energy challenged Oak Ridge National Laboratory to create a program with capabilities to protect cyber infrastructure. Joe Trien, of the lab’s Computational Sciences and Engineering Division, led a team of scientists to create the Ubiquitous Network Transient Autonomous Mission Entities.
“It is one of many possible solutions to protect large enterprises in United States,” Trien said.
UNTAME uses colonies of cyber robots to detect and protect all vulnerabilities within the cyber infrastructure of an enterprise.
“The cyberbots are an inherent part of UNTAME’s software, designed to do cyber security,” Trien said. “Most enterprises have intrusion-detection centers set up in key spots, but they don’t communicate with each other.”
UNTAME is different from these current programs because it prevents cyber criminals from breaking through in one spot while using a diversion at another spot within the network.
“When an attack is detected, UNTAME puts blocks up throughout the enterprise,” Trien said.
He also stressed UNTAME is still a continuous research effort, but ORNL has found success in their simulations with the program. UNTAME is unique in the scope of its capabilities to protect cyber infrastructure, Trien said.
“I think it’s a possibility,” Thomas Potok, of ORNL’s Computational Sciences and Engineering Division, said in reference to cyber terrorism. “We’re at a point where so much of what we do deals with technology, from communication to banking, and our dependency on computer networks makes cyber crime a threat.”
Potok also warns of disgruntled people within organizations to malicious people who hack into systems for the challenge to those who plan to profit from their cyber attacks.
“Cyber information is massive,” Potok said. “UT’s system alone probably receives tons of packages of data a day.”
This massive amount of online information needs protection.
According to a 2006 Internet crime report released by the National White Collar Crime Center and the FBI, more than $194 million was allegedly lost as a result of cyber crime. This is an increase of $15 million from 2005.
Trien said UNTAME is not the only program with protection capability.
“But we do need to find ways to protect these infrastructures,” Trien said of the government’s cyber vulnerabilities. “This is just one possible framework.”
Potok led a team to design Piranha, a similar software to UNTAME.
“You can take technology and analyze cyber information to look at potential attacks,” he said.
Although Piranha could be used in non-offensive maneuvers, Potok said one could use it to provide helpful information for the military and other governmental agencies that must gather vital information from a warehouse of excess data.
“Piranha analyzes text information and provides a visual way to organize it,” Potok said.
Cyber security is an important area of focus for the government, Potok said. According to the 12th annual Computer Crime and Security Survey, the net budget spent on information technology security increased from 2006 to 2007.
One of the top three common types of attack is outsider system penetration. This creates a loss of $6.8 million. Cyber space leaves people vulnerable to threats, and Piranha and UNTAME are programs that can stem this continual tide, Potok said.