DHS funds research into secure mobile tech

Seven universities and companies will develop secure mobile technology for federal agencies under agreements with the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate.

The agreements are worth a total of $8.9 million and are part of the directorate's Mobile Device Security research and development project, which seeks to accelerate adoption of secure mobile technology by government and private-sector organizations. MDS is developing mobile device instrumentation, transactional security methods, mobile security management tools and mobile device layer protection.

DHS held a kick-off meeting on Aug. 25 to showcase the MDS project to a variety of federal stakeholders, S&T spokesman John Verrico told FCW. The goal of the meeting "was to showcase the R&D projects while engaging closely with our stakeholders to understand each agency's mobility challenges," he added.

As the project progresses, DHS officials will use that stakeholder input to further sharpen mobile device and network cybersecurity.

On Aug. 12, the department announced a $2.2 million award to HRL Laboratories to develop technology for mobile devices that learns users' behaviors and activates novel algorithms for early warning systems.

Northrop Grumman will use a $1.7 million award to develop technology that will authenticate mobile device users based on their behavior and onboard sensors, and a $1.7 million award to Kryptowire will fund creation of an operational "norm" for devices based on their typical connections to networks and other activities.

In addition, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte received a $759,727 Mobile Technology Security award to explore next-generation tools for managing mobile security. Rutgers University received a $576,000 MTS award for research into methods for securing mobile transactions.

Intelligent Automation will use a $1.2 million award to support research into mobile device layer protection, and United Technologies Research Center received $790,000 to develop context-aware authentication and risk assessment for mobile technology.

Within two years, Verrico said S&T hopes to provide progressive tools, technologies and methods to accelerate agencies' adoption and use of secure mobile technologies, including the more than 200,000 employees and 90,000 mobile devices at DHS.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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