Australian Computer Scientists to Develop Software for Multi-million-dollar US Government Cyber-security Project

Nov 15, 2012, 10:00 ET from National ICT Australia Ltd (NICTA)

SYDNEY, Nov. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A multi-million-dollar contract with the United States Government will see a team of computer scientists from NICTA, Australia's Information and Communications Technology Research Centre of Excellence, develop a new breed of software to protect the critical systems in unmanned vehicles from cyber attack.

A consortium, led by Rockwell Collins with NICTA as a core member, won the 4.5-year, US$18 million project with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The project promises to have far-reaching future applications protecting critical systems in motor vehicles, medical devices and aircraft.

"As computers replace mechanical systems in many industries, we are increasingly dependent on the functionality implemented in software," said Dr Jodi Steel, Director of the Security and Environment Business Team at NICTA. "This project is all about making sure that such systems function as intended, even in the case of cyber attacks."

The work will be undertaken by the same group of NICTA scientists that developed the highly robust seL4 operating system, which the prestigious MIT Technology Review named in 2011 as one of the top ten technologies likely to change the world. The project is part of DARPA's High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems (HACMS) program, which aims to produce highly-dependable systems that are resilient to emerging cyber threats. The consortium also includes The Boeing Company, Galois and the University of Minnesota.

The NICTA team will develop new approaches to address the many challenges involved in building high-assurance systems. The aim is to develop a complete, formally proven architecture to protect the control and communication systems of an aerial vehicle from compromise by faults and targeted attacks. Formal verification has in the past been used to ensure correct operation of critical, but small and isolated pieces of software in fly-by-wire aircraft and nuclear power plants.


NICTA (National ICT Australia Ltd) is Australia's Information and Communications Technology Research Centre of Excellence. NICTA develops technologies that generate economic, social and environmental benefits for Australia. NICTA collaborates with industry on joint projects, creates new companies, and provides new talent to the ICT sector through a NICTA-enhanced PhD program. With five laboratories around Australia and over 700 people, NICTA is the largest organisation in Australia dedicated to ICT research.

NICTA is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy and the Australian Research Council through the ICT Centre of Excellence Program. NICTA is also funded and supported by the Australian Capital Territory, the New South Wales, Queensland and Victorian Governments, the Australian National University, the University of New South Wales, the University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney, Griffith University, Queensland University of Technology and Monash University.

For further information:
Dorothy Kennedy
Communications Specialist, NICTA
Ph: +61 2 9376 2098 or +61 488 229 687

SOURCE National ICT Australia Ltd (NICTA)