Internet Creators Ask Hackers for Help

The military's technology research arm -- the same group that helped create the Internet in the early 70s -- is asking hackers for help keeping it secure.

Called "Cyber Fast Track," the new program from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will fund independent security researchers and experimental programs, emphasizing unconventional solutions and unusual players, including hobbyists, startups, and even hackers. DARPA, the Defense Department's cybersavvy research division, hopes the program will cut through big budget projects to launch new initiatives in a more timely fashion.

The program aims to implement cybersecurity projects faster, said Peiter "Mudge" Zatko, a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, according to a report at And awardees would retain commercial rights over their work.

"Since the early '80s there has been some contingent of cyber researchers and hobbyists operating in low-budget settings," said Zatko, formerly affiliated with the freewheeling Boston-based hacker collective L0pht, known for its 1998 Senate testimony that it could shut down the Internet in 30 minutes. The limited resources these groups operate on "forces them to be extremely creative," he said.

Yet it is "really painful" for small organizations to engage the government because its institutions have been "set up for multimillion-dollar, multiyear-long efforts," Zatko said in his keynote. DARPA hopes the approach used with Cyber Fast Track can be applied elsewhere in Defense, he added.

Read more on DARPA's new direction at