NSA launches pilot program to secure defense contractors

The National Security Agency is testing a secure domain name system model to better secure companies in the defense industrial base, whose networks house critical weapons technology information.

Anne Neuberger, the NSA's cybersecurity director, announced the agency began a pilot program, Secure DNS, during Defense One's Tech Summit June 18. The pilot, which has been ongoing for a little more than a month, can reduce malware attacks 92% on a given network, she said.

Six weeks into the pilot program she said "we certainly see that secure DNS has an impact ... we've seen it block [malicious activity] in the set of companies that are using the pilot."

"We know they're targeted because they're building weapons technology for the department," she said.

Neuberger didn't specify how many companies were involved in the pilot.

NSA partnered with Defense Department elements including the CIO to roll out a commercial managed service provider to deliver secure DNS services to a group of defense industrial base companies to test the model for security for smaller or medium-sized companies.

The pilot, which filters outside DNS requests, points to increasing concern about cyber threats against private companies that contract with the Defense Department.

DOD is in the midst of finalizing a new unified cybersecurity standard for contractors, the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, and implementing a ban on China-manufactured telecommunications equipment and services due to security concerns.

Neuberger said the pilot targets the top activities that can reduce cyber risks and is accessible to smaller companies that face special challenges in paying for high-end cybersecurity services.

"There's not unlimited resources to apply in cybersecurity," she said.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


  • IT Modernization
    shutterstock image By enzozo; photo ID: 319763930

    OMB provides key guidance for TMF proposals amid surge in submissions

    Deputy Federal CIO Maria Roat details what makes for a winning Technology Modernization Fund proposal as agencies continue to submit major IT projects for potential funding.

  • gears and money (zaozaa19/

    Worries from a Democrat about the Biden administration and federal procurement

    Steve Kelman is concerned that the push for more spending with small disadvantaged businesses will detract from the goal of getting the best deal for agencies and taxpayers.

Stay Connected