The promise of technology transfer

DHS S&T is lining up more technologies to make the transition from government to commercial application, in hopes they will redound to the benefit of all.

Image from Shutterstock.

Research wranglers at the Department of Homeland Security are rounding up the next herd of federal cybersecurity technologies, to set them free on the commercial range in hopes of establishing hardier breeds of gear and capabilities.

In mid-December, DHS's Science and Technology directorate will showcase its latest lineup of cybersecurity technologies developed in federal research labs in hopes of transferring the technology to the commercial market for adaptation and development.

The Dec. 16 showcase in Washington, D.C., is the latest attempt by DHS to bolster the cybersecurity posture of federal users, as well as interlinked commercial users such as critical infrastructure providers -- and the broader public as well.

Among the technologies DHS is looking to commercial industry to embrace is a test bed that continually evolves to support research into cybersecurity for critical infrastructure networks. Another might allow law enforcement officers to conduct on-the-spot electronic forensics on mobile devices in the field, instead of sending a device to a lab.

The department’s Transition to Practice (TTP) technology transfer effort -- for which the showcase is a public face -- can lead to more secure federal IT down the road, said Doug Maughan, director of S&T's Cyber Security Division.

The TTP operation has been moving technology from federal labs to the private sector since 2011, and its primary goal is to push technologies that have been developed at federal agencies out to a wider pool of potential commercial developers. Better cybersecurity technology returning to DHS as a result of the program's effort, Maughan said, can be a side benefit. And that interplay is particularly important in the interconnected environment of cybersecurity.

"Cybersecurity is not a private or a government problem. It's a joint problem," agreed Mike Pozmantier, program manager for S&T Transition to Practice operations.

The TTP program, Pozmantier said, doesn't yield a monetary benefit for DHS, but it does help cybersecurity efforts in the long run by exposing technologies developed at sometimes-cloistered government research and development shops to the wider research world.

"We get better cybersecurity leading the way and we get more research," he said, allowing technological development to continue on the private sector’s dime.

Changing the game

Technologies that emerge from federal research labs were probably developed with a specific purpose in mind for a particular agency, Pozmantier said, but they hold potential for other users.

TTP finds commercial companies that can take development of the technology further. Typically, he said, the technology is licensed by the original agency to the commercial developer. The resulting commercial product, Pozmantier and Maughan explained, can bring more sharply defined products to federal and commercial IT users alike.

In September, Los Alamos National Laboratory signed its biggest technology transfer agreement ever with private cybersecurity technology company Whitewood Encryption Systems. In that deal, Los Alamos licensed a next-generation secure data encryption technology after nearly 20 years of development.

Quantum key distribution harnesses light photons to generate random numbers, creating cryptographic keys at lightning speed, according to the lab. Whitewood will use the Los Alamos-developed technology as the foundation of its initial product, a scalable quantum key management system and pay licensing fees or royalties for the technology and develop commercial products using it.

Cybersecurity experts have said the technology could be a game-changer for all sectors, including federal agencies. According to Los Alamos, any third-party attempts to eavesdrop on secure communications between quantum key holders disrupts the quantum system itself, so communication can be aborted and the snooper detected before any data is stolen.

China emphasized the importance of quantum key technology in late October when it announced it was rolling out a 1,200 mile-long fiber optic link between Beijing and Shanghai that uses quantum encryption -- this version developed in China -- that it said will be theoretically unhackable. The project is funded by the Chinese government and, according to Chinese authorities, is a response to Western cyber espionage. China, in turn, has been the lead suspect in a series of hacks on U.S. government entities over the past few years.

Pozmantier said a quantum key product for commercial and government use should come out of Whitewood by April. Whitewood Encryption Services' owner Allied Minds has said the firm’s goal is to have a hardware module for quantum random-number generation and a scalable quantum key management product available in the second quarter of 2015.

And if the TTP team has its way, the December showcase will help show them the next technologies that are ready to break from the herd.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.