The U.S. Army Research Laboratory, the corporate research division of the U.S. Army, has opened the Army Cyber Research Analytics Laboratory (ACAL). The ACAL was designed and created through a partnership between the Army Research Laboratory and Army Cyber Command.

The facility is intended to accelerate the development of cutting-edge analysis and cyber defense strategies to combat emerging cyber threats in operations.

The ACAL will also be used for systems engineering, product integration, training, and testing.

The facility has three distributed computation clusters, with the largest cluster configured with over two petabytes of raw storage and 20 terabytes of RAM. A single cluster also includes 1,500 CPU cores with 10- to 40-gigabyte networking.

The ACAL will incorporate technologies including Hadoop, Elasticsearch, Spark, and Kafka, among others. Researchers will be able to access the laboratory physically or remotely, and partners will have access to live, highly sensitive cybersecurity data.

This data can then be used to develop and deploy cyber defense and strategies that limit the propagation of malware, and other types of cyber attacks.

Lt. Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, commander of U.S. Army Cyber Command, said that the opening of the new facility is another step in the Army Research Laboratory’s history as a leader in the sphere of modern-day computing technology. The ACAL not only “represents a new capability, but a new direction in the way we develop and deploy capabilities to defend Army networks,” he said.

Lt. Gen Nakasone also noted that one of the most pressing challenges in exercises and training is to have a dynamic environment to work in, for comprehensive, active cyber defense research and practice. The ACAL is intended to provide that environment for training, and development of cutting-edge cyber defense applications for the U.S. Army as a whole.

ACAL partners, granted access to the new facility, include industrial organizations, universities, and other federally-funded entities.

Experts from the Army Research Laboratory expect that the new ACAL will provide cybersecurity and cyber defense applications across the Army Computer Network Defense group, including Army Cyber Command, Network Enterprise Technology Command, and associated partners.

The U.S. Army Cyber Command recently discussed new methods it is using to attract technological talent to staff the cyber teams being created by Cyber Command. Among these are a ‘hacker puzzle’ available on the ARCYBER webpage and on YouTube. Over 800,000 individuals attempted to solve the puzzle, and only the top 1% were successful. The puzzle generated massive interest, however, with 1.3 million hits on the Cyber Command website and almost 10 million hits on YouTube.