Iowa State University has unveiled a new research lab designed to realistically simulate internet attacks in order to better study their effects and lead to improved defenses.

The Internet-Simulation Event and Attack Generation Environment (ISEAGE) was created by Doug Jacobsen, a professor of computer engineering at Iowa State University and CTO at security supplier Palisade Systems. The U.S. Department of Justice provided $500,000 in seed funding for the project.

ISEAGE consists of a 64-node cluster of processors interconnected with a set of custom software tools that can recreate a realistic simulation of internet attacks, Jacobsen said. The tools allow researchers to simulate attacks that appear to be coming from thousands of locations.

Jacobsen said ISEAGE provides a more realistic view of the internet than other cybersecurity testbeds, such as the Cyber Defense Technology Experimental Research (DETER) project. Led by U.C. Berkeley and the University of Southern California, DETER is funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security.

Unlike other cyberattack simulations, ISEAGE tries to recreate all the background internet traffic that goes along with an attack, Jacobsen said.

The testbed has been used in a student project and the state of Iowa has expressed interest in using it to study security and business continuity issues, he said. The goal of ISEAGE is to help industry and government to come up with better mechanisms to secure their organizations, he added.