PIRATE: $7.5M DARPA Contract To Accelerate Secure Application Development 

I’m excited to announce we’ve been awarded a $7.5 million contract by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to work on PIRATE, a set of software development tools for designing and building high-performance, physically-partitioned applications that protect sensitive information. 

PIRATE stands for Partitioning Information via Resource-Aware Transformations for Everyone.  The project is part of DARPA’s Guaranteed Architecture for Physical Security (GAPS) program, which focuses on developing hardware and software architectures that can provide physically provable guarantees around high-risk transactions, or where data moves between systems of different security levels. 

Today, DoD, other government agencies and commercial organizations face a time consuming and extended accreditation process when building systems and applications that process sensitive information (military and intelligence systems, medical systems, financial systems, etc.). With PIRATE, we aim to address this challenge by accelerating the development of real-time interconnected applications with built-in multilevel security. To ensure the technology can be used across a range of commercial and government applications, much of the work is focused on building extensions to existing open-source tools and technologies.

Goals and team

PIRATE’s goal is to enable developers to rapidly build systems where sensitive information can be securely stored and safely shared when approved.  We aim to produce a framework and tools that make that type of application development easier and more accessible.  We envision a process where a “GAPS-built” system or application using our framework and tools will go through the certification and accreditation process much more quickly and securely.

We aim to do this by extending existing mainstream languages. The project addresses a core objective of GAPS by ensuring the technology can be adopted by mainstream languages and development tools. To facilitate upstream adoption, we aim to release PIRATE software publicly under open source licenses.

PIRATE is a four and a half year effort. Our team consists of Galois and Two Six Labs. Galois will contribute its experience in language design, compiler development, and formal methods; Two Six Labs will contribute its experience in low-level software development, hardware integration, and construction and use of board support packages (BSPs) for embedded systems. 

More information on the project can be found on the PIRATE project page as the effort progresses. 

The material is based upon work supported by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under Contract No. HR0011-19-C-0103. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).