Department of Homeland Security Awards $1.3 Million to Small Businesses for Cybersecurity Research and Development
by Nuno Menezes
In December 2015, the DHS Science and Technology Directorate announced a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. Since its inception in 2004, the DHS Science and Technology Directorate SBIR Program has been a competitive program. The SIBR awards innovative and creative small businesses in federal research and development initiatives with the goal of increasing private-sector commercialization of its own solutions and to put forward the development of new and enhanced cybersecurity solutions.
The goal of the SIBR program is to increase the participation of innovative and creative U.S. small businesses in federal research and development programs and to challenge the industry to bring innovative homeland security solutions to reality.
The SBIR proposal presented four main topics designed to help the research and development of software and components to cope with the needs of the Department. This year the SIBR awarded $1.3 million to 13 companies who were able to present projects fulfilling all of the goals of the SIBR program. The solicited topics are as follows:
- Applicability of Blockchain Technology to Identity Management and Privacy Protection: Using the Blockchain technology to support identity verification.
- Remote Identity Proofing Alternatives to Knowledge-Based Authentication and Verification: Designing and demonstrating alternatives to knowledge-based verification techniques.
- Malware Prediction for Situational Understanding and Preemptive Cyber Defense: The goal of this topic is to develop capabilities to predict and prevent malware.
- Real-Time Assessment of Resilience and Preparedness: developing a low-cost, flexible application that can analyze a community’s resilience on a near real-time basis while being able to present this information on mobile and fixed platforms.
Each small business was awarded about $100,000 in funding. The 13 awarded companies were (by topic):
Applicability of Blockchain:
Digital Bazaar, Inc. The Company is developing a linked data ledger format and architecture to demonstrate how to publish identity credentials.
Respect Network Corporation. The Company is developing a decentralized registry and discovery service to integrate with the public blockchain.
Narf Industries LLC. The Company is working to achieve an identity management solution built on a permission-less blockchain: confidentiality, integrity, availability, non-DHS repudiation, provenance, and pseudo-anonymity.
Celerity Government Solutions, LLC. The Company is researching blockchain solutions to enable users to establish and maintain trusted identity transactions with public and private organizations.
Remote Identity Proofing Alternatives:
CardSmart Technologies. The Company is investigating the effectiveness of alternative approaches ranging from a person’s online reputation to voice forensics.
Pomian & Corella, LLC. The Company is exploring innovations including the use of chip-enabled credit cards, federated identity protocols and cryptographic credentials carrying validated attributes.
PreID Inc., The Company is investigating several new identity-verification approaches.
Malware Prediction for Situational Understanding:
BlueRISC, Inc. The Company is developing a method to capture network system motion as a predictive indication of potentially malicious activity.
GrammaTech, Inc. The Company is creating a tool to understand the evolution of malware characteristics and anticipating future malware evolution.
Red Balloon Security. The Company is developing a hybrid model using long-term malware trend prediction, a short-term approach in monitoring malware and capturing forensic data to provide real-time predictions.
ZeroPoint Dynamics, LLC. The Company is developing techniques for conducting automated analysis of malicious documents and malware and providing enhanced understanding and preemptive malware and exploit defenses.
Real-Time Assessment of Resilience and Preparedness:
Datanova Scientific LLC. The Company is developing an application for site-specific predictive and proactive risk generation and resilience assessment.
InferLink Corporation. The Company is developing an end-to-end prototype system for resiliency assessment.
One thing to note in the SIBR solicitation is that the DHS has chosen the Blockchain technology as one of the main topics; this means that the Blockchain technology is already considered to be a trusted and a viable security option. This opens up a new door for the Blockchain and perhaps for Bitcoin itself.
The 13 selected companies will now start the integration process and will soon receive the awarded funding. After that, the selected businesses will also have the chance of being eligible for further development funding based on their initial project results as well as their scientific and technical merit and perceived commercialization potential.