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NICTA will participate in a US Government contract to help secure the software in unmanned vehicles.

A $US18 million contract will see Rockwell Collins, NICTA, Boeing, Galois, and the University of Minnesota collaborate on a project to secure critical systems in unmanned vehicles.

The project is part of DARPA's High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems (HACMS) program, which aims to produce highly-dependable systems that are resilient to emerging cyber threats, NICTA officials said.

NICTA researchers have devised a way to prove the correctness of software, ie that it will function according to its specification and will not do anything outside that specification.

"NICTA's selection for this project reflects our status as world leaders in the verification of operating systems," said Scientia Professor Gernot Heiser, leader of NICTA's software systems research group and the University of New South Wales John Lions Chair.

"Now we will have the opportunity to greatly extend the scale, aiming to ensure the safety of a complete, real-world system, something considered impossible only a few years ago."

Systems developed as part of the project will be subjected to attacks by teams that will use their inside knowledge of the systems to exploit any vulnerabilities.

The New South Wales Government welcomed the news. "NICTA's involvement in this important contract is the result of groundbreaking research undertaken in NICTA's New South Wales laboratories over more than seven years," said Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Stoner.

"We are proud of the innovation and world-leading expertise of the team behind this win, which is significant both for NICTA and for research and development efforts in many industries across the state.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences, a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies, and is a senior member of the Australian Computer Society.

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