NORTHFIELD — A nonprofit organization controlled by Norwich University is getting a $9.9 million federal contract to continue work on a cyberwarfare gaming system that helps banks and others learn how to respond to hacking attacks.
Norwich’s Applied Research Institutes will use the money to further refine the program so more private and public groups can plan for computer attacks through coordinated exercises.
The challenge of learning to respond to such attacks is that there won’t necessarily be a concrete action that is easy to recognize, such as when emergency responders stage mock accidents, or the military stages an attack to test its response, said Phil Susmann, president of the Research Institute.
“In a cyber-event, there’s not going to be ‘there was a bomb, respond,’” Susmann said. Instead, it could show up as an apparently innocuous computer problem or, in the financial sector, an issue with trading.
The program, known as the Distributed Environment for Critical Infrastructure Decision-making Exercises program, or DECIDE, helps organizations recognize that something is happening and respond appropriately.
“The first time they encounter these types of circumstances shouldn’t be in a live event,” Susmann said. “It should take place so that you can make sure that your response plans are adaptable and flexible.”
Norwich will use the money from the latest contract to continue developing the system used by financial institutions and other organizations to respond to attacks on their computer systems.
Advancements in DECIDE will allow multiple organizations to take part in attack simulations. Earlier versions have already been used to simulate electronic attacks.
Norwich offers undergraduate degrees in computer security and information assurance and a master’s degree program in information assurance. Applied Research Institutes is a separate nonprofit organization controlled by the university, said Norwich President Richard Schneider.
The latest contract is expected to create about a dozen jobs.
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