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Experimental Research Testbed

Background

An experimental infrastructure is needed to support the development and testing of next-generation cybersecurity technologies. Due to the inherent risks of testing malicious software in operational networks, neither existing research network infrastructures nor the operational Internet meet this need. New security technologies are currently tested and validated in small- to medium-size private research laboratories, which are not representative of the large operational networks or Internet elements that might be involved in a security attack. In response to this issue, the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) partnered with the National Science Foundation to create the Defense Technology Experimental Research (DETER) testbed.

The DETER testbed is used to test and evaluate cybersecurity technologies by over 200 organizations from more than 20 states and 17 countries, including DHS-funded researchers, the larger cybersecurity research community, government, industry, academia and educational users.

DETER Implementation

The DETER testbed provides the necessary infrastructure networks, tools, methodologies, and supporting processes to support national testing of emerging and advanced security technologies. The testbed facilitates scientific experimentation and validation against established baselines of attack behavior and supports innovative approaches that involve breaking the network infrastructure. The testing framework allows researchers to experiment with a variety of parameters representing the network environment, including deployed defense technologies, attack behaviors, and mechanism configurations. Current efforts will support larger and more complex experiments with increased usability.

The success of the DETER testbed lies largely in its collaboration with the cybersecurity research community. Annual workshops are conducted to disseminate and discuss project results and outcomes, reports documenting benchmarks, testbeds, data collection and analysis, and evaluations of security mechanisms that have been deployed. It is important for the research community to share their results with each other and to discuss improvements to the DETER research infrastructure.

Significant Impact

The DETER testbed provides cybersecurity researchers, developers, and operators from government, industry, and academia with the opportunity to thoroughly test new technologies intended to protect the Nations critical infrastructure. This active medium-scale testbed is successfully strengthening critical network and Internet security. The DETER testbed is used increasingly for education. Users benefit from developing and sharing educational material and tools to train the next generation of cybersecurity experts. DETER exposure in educational communities will generate an increasing interest in research and provide hands-on experience for potential next-generation operators.

More information about the DETER testbed is available here.

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