One of the many cyberwarfare projects coming out of the US government carries the intriguing title “Plan X.” DARPA has already spent over $5 million on preliminary studies involving some of the country’s best-known game developers and special effects houses, and now the first phase of development is scheduled for this summer. The ultimate goal of this particular project: To make taking down an enemy’s cyberinfrastructure as simple as entering a few swipes on a smartphone.
What’s the Big Idea?
In general, cyberattacks that cause serious damage often take a long time to plan and are executed by small groups of highly-specialized hackers. Also, such offensives can be unpredictable regardless of the amount of preparation involved. For better or worse, DARPA wants to eliminate the complexity at the end-user level by creating an interface that even a commanding officer with minimal computer experience could use. After seeing a demonstration of a rough Plan X prototype, writer Noah Shachtman asks “whether developing a cyberattack infrastructure enhances security — or undermines it. Whether [they’re] building a market for network mayhem.”