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Constellation: CYBERCOM and DARPA's Shared Commitment

Bola Ogbara
Bola Ogbara Connect on LinkedIn
2 min. read

CYBERCOM and DARPA's new agreement will improve collaboration in the Constellation program,  enhancing national security with cutting-edge cyber technologies.Constellation

In May 2024, the U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM), and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) signed a new agreement laying out how they’ll work together - covering their combined governing structure, responsibilities, and budget plans to improve planning. 


This agreement follows the formation of the Constellation pilot program, which was launched in December 2022 by both groups. The pilot program was made to ensure that new cyber abilities, from risky but potentially high-reward research in cyber science and technology, could be smoothly entered into CYBERCOM’s computer systems through a new pipeline that would “accelerate the creation, proving, adoption, and delivery of new cyberspace capabilities into the command’s software ecosystem.” 


At the 2024 RSA Conference, the deputy commander of CYBERCOM, Lieutenant General William J. Hartman stressed the revolutionary potential of the Constellation program: “We’re talking about the rapid expansion of the art of the possible by partnering directly with the people persistently pushing the technological beyond its limits, conversely informing and challenging those advancements through an operational lens to maximize the balance between the art and science of cyber in support of national security. Through Constellation, we are taking the most promising technology from across the DARPA portfolio and developing critical capabilities under focused projects to accelerate direct delivery capability to the warfighter.”


While the projects under Constellation have not yet been finished there are several underway and the first pilot project produced an operational prototype that surpassed the capabilities of its predecessor only after six months of production. These projects have various sensitivities, so information is not always publicly available. In an interview with Signal Media, the manager of DARPA’s Constellation program, Tejas Patel explained the exciting work behind two pilot projects that can be publicly discussed - one being a comprehensive study on best practices in systems engineering and the other centering on prospects of the DARPA CHASE (Cyber Hunting at Scale) program and the Enhanced Attribution Program. According to their website, CHASE will “prototype components that enable network owners to reconfigure sensors and disseminate protective measures at machine speed with appropriate levels of human supervision” and the Enhanced Attribution Program “aims to make currently opaque malicious cyber adversary actions and individual cyber operator attribution transparent”. 


Right now, organizations “at the forefront of developing cutting-edge cyber-related technologies” are being offered an opportunity to get involved in the Constellation program and improve national security. DARPA’s Information Innovation Office director, Dr. Kathleen Fisher encourages businesses and academics to consider teaming up with this agency: “Continuous delivery of robust S&T cyber capabilities requires a pipeline model that mitigates research risk and creates necessary connections between end users and research teams.” 


Though ongoing projects under Constellation remain sensitive, promising developments have already emerged, exemplifying the program's potential. As the initiative continues to evolve, organizations pioneering cyber-related technologies are encouraged to engage with Constellation, ushering in a new era of innovation and resilience in cyberspace.