Army’s corporate lab opens space for collaborative cyber security research

Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander of U.S. Army Cyber Command, speaks to attendees during the opening of the Army Cyber-research Analytics Laboratory, to be known as ACAL, located at Adelphi Laboraotry Center, Maryland, July 18, 2017.| U.S. Army photo

ADELPHI LABORATORY CENTER, Md.— The U.S. Army Research Laboratory opened a collaborative research space called the Army Cyber-research Analytics Laboratory, July 18, that unlike any other lab, provides industrial and federally-funded partners of ARL, including universities, access to highly-sensitive live cyber security data.

Joining ARL Director Dr. Philip Perconti at today’s ribbon cutting were Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander of U.S. Army Cyber Command; Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor, commanding general of the Communications-Electronics Command; and Dr. Thomas Russell, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for research and technology.

The new research space was developed as a result of a “strong partnership” with the Army Cyber Command and represents an extension of ongoing collaborative efforts with the Defense Department’s science and technology community, Perconti said.

The ACAL currently houses three distributed computation clusters, the largest of which is configured with over two Petabytes of raw storage, over 20 Terabytes of RAM, over 1,500 <FZ,1,0,5>CPU cores and 10 to 40 gigabyte networking. By comparison, a home computer has, on average, four to 16 GBs of RAM, likely quad-core processors and on the very robust end and 512 GB hard drive.

The ACAL relies on technologies most familiar to researchers, analytic developers and data scientists: Hadoop, Elasticsearch, R, Spark, Storm, Accumulo, Kafka, and many others. This degree of high-performance computing and analytic development technology will facilitate the rapid development and deployment of cutting edge analytic capabilities to meet the warfighter’s operational mission needs in the cyber realm, stated Akhilomen O. Oniha, lead, Technical Architecture Team for this project at ARL.

Oniha said researchers can expect to be able to access the laboratory physically or remotely to assess emerging cyber threats such as hackings and communication jams, and quickly develop and deploy cyber analytic capabilities like active cyber defense and cyber maneuvers that limit lateral propagation of hostile malware to address them.

Lt. Gen. Nakasone said the opening of the ACAL is an indication of ARL’s “long history as the leader in modern computing.” He said the ACAL not only “represents a new capability, but a new direction in the way we develop and deploy capabilities to defend Army networks. (ACAL) provides a dynamic environment to host active cyber defense research – our most pressing challenge in exercises and training.

“The ARL/Army Cyber partnership goes back to our birth in 2010. We recognized the critical role that science and technology partnerships would play in our future. Army Cyber invested in ARL and more importantly, Army Cyber invested in ARL,” said Nakasone. “ARL’s expertise has been crucial to our efforts at Army Cyber Command and to build what we think is one of our most exciting developments, our big data platform.”

By The Army Research Laboratory