A strange thing happened on the Internet the day President Biden was sworn in. A shadowy company residing at a shared workspace above a Florida bank announced to the world’s computer networks that it was now managing a colossal, previously idle, chunk of the Internet owned by the US Department of Defense. That real estate has since more than quadrupled to 175 million addresses—about 1/25th of the current Internet, the AP reports. "That is the biggest thing in the history of the Internet," said Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at Kentik, a network operating company. It's also more than twice the size of the Internet space actually used by the Pentagon. After weeks of wonder by the networking community, the Pentagon has provided a terse explanation. But it has not answered many basic questions, beginning with why it chose to entrust management of the address space to a company that seems not to have existed until September.
The military hopes to "assess, evaluate, and prevent unauthorized use of DoD IP address space," said a statement from the Pentagon's Defense Digital Service, which is running the project. It also hopes to "identify potential vulnerabilities" to defend against cyber-intrusions by global adversaries, who are consistently infiltrating US networks, sometimes operating from unused Internet address blocks. The Pentagon periodically contends with unauthorized squatting, in part because there has been a shortage of first-generation Iinternet addresses since 2011. Madory said advertising the address space will make it easier to chase off squatters and allow the US to "collect a massive amount of background internet traffic for threat intelligence." What a spokesman could not explain Saturday is why the Pentagon chose Global Resource Systems, which has no record of government contracts, to manage the address space. It has no web presence, and a receptionist drew a blank when a reporter asked for a company representative at its workspace.
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