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DARPA is developing a video game-like program to make cyberwarfare easy

For the past year, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Pentagon have been working on a touch-based video game-esque program called Plan X aimed to make cyberwarfare easy, according Wired.

DARPA believes the "digital battlefield has to be as easy to navigate as an iPhone" and "attacks have to be as easy to launch as an Angry Bird." The project is headed by cybersecurity specialist and Plan X creator, Dan Roelker.

"Say you're playing World of Warcraft, and you've got this type of sword, +5 or whatever. You don't necessarily know what spells were used to create that sword, right? You just know it has these attributes and it helps you in this way," Roelker told Wired. "It's the same type of concept. You don't need the technical details."

According to Wired, the current state of Plan X operates on a Touch Table, a 40-inch touchscreen computer. Networks are represented by nodes and constellations, with threats such as botnets represented by red nodes. The user can choose from a series of battle units, represented by stylized icons, to attack the threatening node. In the future, the icons could represent downloading a rootkit to a target, launching denial of service attack or releasing a tool to monitor the attack.

Apparently, at the start of the project, Roelker hired some game industry veterans to come up with ideas to connect with data that didn't involve keyboard and mouse. Some ideas produced were programs that used a Google Glass-style wearable computer, Xbox 360 Kinect integration and a virtual reality headset.

At the end of the first year, Roelker is expecting a Plan X product launch where Plan X software developers kits will be provided to hackers.

To date, DARPA has spent more than $5 million on Plan X preliminary studies and will launch a $110 million, four-year program in the near future. Contracts for system architecture, battlespace analytics and mission planning are expected to be awarded in August.

Massive Black, a San Francisco-based design firm that has worked on materials for Bioshock, League of Legends and Risen 2: Dark Waters, is pegged to design the interface.

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