The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) office in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a broad agency announcement for its Cyber-attack Automated Unconventional Sensor Environment (CAUSE) program.

CAUSE seeks to fund research into methods that can provide accurate and timely forecasts of cyber attacks, the posting on FedBizOpps said.

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IARPA highlighted most data breaches are detected by external parties, suggesting cyber attacks may be detected earlier by using external sensors outside an organization’s boundaries, compared to internal sensors that exist within the logical boundary of an organization.

CAUSE is aimed at “developing and testing new automated methods that forecast and detect cyber-attacks significantly earlier than existing methods,” IARPA said in the announcement.

“IARPA expects performers to identify and extract novel leading signals from both internal and external sensors (both conventional and unconventional) and use them to generate warnings – probabilistic forecasts and/or detections of cyber attacks.”

Performers are to ultimately generate warnings for real cyber-attacks against U.S. industry organizations that have agreed to participate in the CAUSE Program, the announcement said.

IARPA is envisioning a 3.5 year, multi-phase research effort intended to begin February 2016. The external data used in the research will come from publicly available data sources, lawfully obtained available to any member of the general public.

Phase I is to last 18 months with two additional possible option phases that would last for 12 months each. Multiple Phase 1 awards are anticipated.