DeciSym and Sylabs Partner to Develop Virtual Data Fabric to Support DoD Cyber Testing

By Staff

Feb 7, 2023 | News

Advanced Container Technology to be Utilized for Collaboration Across Organizational and Classification Enclaves

DeciSym and Sylabs have been awarded an investment tender launched by the Test Resource Management Center (TRMC) Test & Evaluation/Science & Technology (T&E/S&T) Program Office in collaboration with the Chief Digital and AI Office (CDAO). The tender was granted after participating in a cyber round-robin to improve Department of Defense (DoD) cyber testing practices and procedures. The round-robin was piloted through Tradewind, an organization designed to accelerate the adoption of artificial intelligence/machine learning, digital, and data analytics solutions throughout the DoD.

DeciSym is developing, in partnership with Sylabs, the Measure & Share (Me&S) Storage Virtual Fabric. This virtual fabric will increase cyber testing operational effectiveness by reducing the complexity of data integration. It will enable the sharing and integration of cyber test data (and results) for more effective collaboration in a wide range of cyber operations across organizational and classification enclaves. The data fabric will improve testing efficiency and create opportunities to gain new knowledge and actionable insights. The project will help fill technology capability gaps to improve DoD cyber testing practices and procedures.
A vital aspect of the virtual fabric will be utilizing software container engine technology, leveraging the capabilities (including secure container workflow toolsets) of Sylabs SingularityPRO and Singularity Enterprise. These tools will serve as critical infrastructure for enabling the packaging and sharing of data in tiered compartments with credentialed analysts across organizations. The virtual fabric will facilitate multiple data packages for reproducibility for Test & Evaluation (T&E) tools, processes, and visualization interfaces of domain-specific perspectives when fully enacted.
Cyber testing is currently conducted in a “stove piped” and “independent event” manner resulting in testing inefficiency and lost opportunities to gain new knowledge, explains the solicitation distributed by Tradewind. Consequently, test events do not build upon past testing (cyber and non-cyber), and testing of subsystems is often repeated, as are Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs). This approach is inefficient and ineffective at informing DoD leadership at the program office level, the DoD CIO level, and Secretary level of the cyber survivability risk posture of DOD systems and missions. These shortcomings ultimately result in higher T&E costs and fielding systems with significant cyber vulnerabilities. The DeciSym/Sylabs project aims to deliver the following solutions:
  • Develop a mechanism to integrate cyber test results with real-world observed activities or other types of system performance testing.
  • Develop a universal mechanism to quantify the efficacy of a cyber test or to quantify the readiness for a system to be tested.
  • Develop a mechanism to measure the return on investment for cyber testing.
  • Develop a mechanism to promulgate test results to the Test and Evaluation (T&E) community and the broader DoD community.
  • Develop a mechanism to promulgate the specific cyber TTP test vectors that were used during testing, so they may be reused by other testers and organizations.
“One of the key challenges in the successful utilization of artificial intelligence and machine learning exists around the staging and prepping of data to make it scientifically reproducible,” said Don Pellegrino, PhD, CEO and Founder of DeciSym. “Containerization provides a critical tool for scientific reproducibility by giving us a way to pre-package the data being used in the AI-training pipeline. Using Sylabs SingularityPRO and Singularity Enterprise, we can create a platform to provide sophisticated control data with trusted provenance — all while maintaining security protocols such as encryption and identity verification. Our partnership with Sylabs ensures that we have the stability and reliability, as well as long term-support and customized functionality necessary for sensitive applications where national security is a priority.”
“The Singularity Image Format (SIF), developed and maintained by Sylabs, has become the de facto container file format for AI, High Performance Computing (HPC) and advanced analytics, especially including applications where trusted provenance meets with the needs of security,” said Jason Tuschen, CEO of Sylabs and retired Navy SEAL. “The opportunity to work with DeciSym to provide the tooling necessary for AI applications with the potential to impact national security is a solemn honor for both Sylabs and the Singularity community at large. SingularityPRO and Singularity Enterprise are the tip of the spear where advanced container technology meets complex, performance-intensive environments and the need for security, as well as custom tooling and support. We look forward to building a solution that will deliver new standards for containerized data supply chains for mission-critical AI workloads.”
The Data Storage Design and Implementation project is one piece of a multi-pronged Me&S effort that will enable various stakeholders the ability to test and review results that provide information for decision-making. Examples include:
  • Tactical commanders can use perspectives to understand mission readiness for specific Operation Plans (OPLANS) in the context of the cyber risks, current threats, test results, and mitigations. Analytic results will display confidence in the information. Operators can use these perspectives to provide feedback.
  • DoD leadership can use perspectives to gain a holistic understanding of the largest operational cyber risks to the warfighter and identify future test and event requirements. Leadership can use these perspectives to provide feedback.
  • T&E leadership can use perspectives to gain insight on the efficacy of a particular test event, or the effectiveness of the use of test resources.
  • T&E personnel can use perspectives to plan and execute T&E events more efficiently.
  • Acquisition program and T&E leadership can use perspectives to reevaluate the efficacy of tests previously conducted when new threat intelligence information is available and determine the potential need for new testing.
  • Acquisition program leadership can use perspectives to view the efficacy of a test on one of their systems, get information on anticipated test costs for new systems, analytics on the Return On Investment (ROI) on a particular test or a series of tests, and gain insights into components and subcomponents architectures and a design pattern’s ability to meet DoD cyber requirements.
  • Intelligence practitioners can use perspectives to gain insights into threats and trends discovered across the DoD Systems Under Test (SUTs) and components to enhance intel reporting, derive new key intelligence questions, and inform acquisition and defensive cyber operations.
  • Intelligence practitioners can use perspectives to gain insights into the use of intel provided for a particular SUT, component, or test and get feedback on threat reporting gaps.
  • Authorizing officials can use perspectives designed for them to gain more comprehensive insights into test coverage and DoD cyber‐related requirements, including Risk Management Framework (RMF) and Cyber Survivability Endorsement requirements, and Service unique needs(e.g., NAVY CYBERSAFE).
SingularityPRO is created for users of high performance computing (HPC) systems who run mission-critical data science, artificial intelligence, and compute-driven analytics. SingularityPRO offers defined product life cycles, long-term support, compliance & risk management. For more information on SingularityPRO, please visit https://sylabs.io/singularity-pro/.

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