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Defense Technology Experimental Research (DETER)

The Experimental Research Testbed Project focuses on providing cybersecurity researchers the ability to run experiments on an unclassified secure “virtual internet”. The testbed provides contained environments that allow researchers to safely test advanced defense mechanisms against “live” threats without endangering other research or the larger internet. The project began in 2004 with the creation of the Defense Technology Experimental Research (DETER) testbed and was jointly funded with the National Science Foundation (NSF). The DETER testbed is used to test and evaluate cybersecurity technologies by more than 200 organizations from more than 20 states and 30 countries, including major DHS-funded researchers, government, industry, academia and educational users. Additionally, the DETER testbed has been used by more than 157 classes from 37 institutions and involving nearly 10,000 students.


The need to speed up the transformation of cybersecurity research into a rigorous experimental science still exists. The motivation for this effort is to continue to enhance the operational procedures, research prototyping and open-source software development processes of the DETER testbed. The DETER project will continue providing the necessary infrastructure—networks, tools, methodologies and supporting processes—to support national testing of emerging and advanced cybersecurity technologies. The work will continue to facilitate continuity of operations of the DETER testbed, thereby supporting cybersecurity research infrastructure, experimentation capabilities and facilities. The DETER project will continue to provide experimental methods and tools in online courses built for educational use to encourage the development of next-generation cyber researchers.


DETER Lab is a large testbed facility consisting of more than 900 physical nodes. It can be expanded when required via interconnections with additional facilities within the federation or cloud-based services. DETER is the only unclassified, international cybersecurity testbed that is available to researchers on a no-fee basis. Experimenters can share data, lab setups, software, tools and experimental procedures. They can ratify each other’s conclusions by figuratively standing on the shoulders of their predecessor’s rather than start every new project from scratch.


USC Information Sciences Institute (ISI), and the University of California, BerkeleyThe DETER project team is composed of staff from the USC Information Sciences Institute (ISI), and the University of California, Berkeley. ISI is home to the DETER Project. The ISI Team provides leadership and operation of the project. In addition to providing DETERLab services to the international cybersecurity community the ISI Team develops and facilitates system upgrades, collaborates with researchers on projects to advance the state of the art in cybersecurity R&D overall.


For the latest information about S&T Cybersecurity, visit the S&T Cybersecurity News, Publications, Videos and Events pages.

DETER External Website

Fact Sheet & Video

Last Updated: 01/12/2023
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