Defense

DOD wants tools to support cyberstrategy

Shutterstock image (by fotogestoeber): virus infection spreading out in a network.

It's been a year since the Defense Department unveiled a cyber strategy to signal both friend and foe that the U.S. military was serious about the digital domain. Now DOD officials are calling on tech firms to provide a host of tools to complement the strategy, starting with a pitch session this summer.

In June or July, DOD's Rapid Reaction Technology Office, whose mandate is to "provide a hedge against technical uncertainty," will host a demonstration session for firms to show off their technical capabilities, according to a DOD notice.

Defense officials are looking for capabilities listed under categories such as situational awareness; insider threat detection; wireless, embedded and industrial control systems; malware detection; forensics and analysis; enterprise and cloud security services; and big data.

The capabilities sought by RRTO take trends in cybersecurity technologies and adapt them to Pentagon needs. Interest in "IP-enabled command and control paths" and "autonomous planning and reasoning" are two examples of that tailoring.

The pitch session matches up directly with the Pentagon's goal of building and maintaining adept forces and capabilities.

The RRTO notice expresses interest in the security of the industrial control systems that underpin U.S. infrastructure. Officials are seeking "network discovery and mapping for wireless and ICS networks," and ICS "centralized security management," the document states.

There are other signs that ICS security could be gaining more traction at the Pentagon. The commanders of U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Pacific Command in February sent a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter asking him to consider including ICS security in a monthly cyber scorecard that he reviews.

Carter has taken a personal interest in hearing from network security firms with potential solutions to DOD cybersecurity problems. Last month during a trip to Silicon Valley, Carter grilled an executive from endpoint security firm Bromium.

Firms that impress Pentagon officials at this summer's pitch session could be chosen for a pilot project or another form of experimentation, according to the notice. RRTO anticipates some 150 to 200 registrants for the event, according to Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway. The department won't be naming the firms registered, he added.

Companies have until April 19 to apply for the pitch session.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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