Collaboration is the name of the game when it comes to many of the Homeland Security Department’s cybersecurity efforts.
Doug Maughan, director of DHS’ Cyber Security Division in the department’s Science and Technology Directorate, discussed the department’s cyber partnerships as part of the Federal News Radio special report, A New Era in Technology.
Among the new partnerships underway is global collaboration to improve the security of the Internet’s core protocols, he said.
“We’ve worked to deploy domain-name security, and we’re now working with companies like Cisco and Juniper and Verizon and AT&T and Google to improve the security of the routing-infrastructure protocol — called the border-gateway protocol — at the core of the Internet,” Maughan told In Depth with Francis Rose in a recent interview. “And the goal there is by increasing the security of our global Internet, those that use the Internet will, in fact, take advantage of that.”
Another set of projects links DHS up with particular fields in the private-sector to collaboratively conduct research and development, Maughan said.
One project, which connects DHS with the oil and gas sector, is called LOGIC — short for “Linking the Oil and Gas Industry to improve Cybersecurity.”
“The idea is that they develop and design the R&D projects, and we help them execute those projects,” Maughan said. “Whether it’s bringing in academic partners or bringing in other vendors or bringing in some of the National Labs, we try to help them in solving some of their problems.”
Another, the Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid, is a joint project with the Energy Department that attempts to shore up cyber vulnerabilities in the nation’s electric power grid.
“We get real-world owners and operators providing research requirements,” Maughan said. “And then the model is, after the research is done, we work with the universities to help transition those technologies into the private sector. So, the idea is to have the private sector involved from beginning to end to ensure the research that is funded ends up into operations and not on the shelf.”
Maughan said many of the initiatives have been successful and DHS has seen portfolio of new projects expand.
“In some of these projects, the private-sector partners are putting funds on the table as part of the project,” he said. “So, if they keep coming back year after year and (are) willing to put money into the project, we view that as a success. As we fund research, we also have a model where we ensure the commercialization and the transition of the technologies. So, we can measure success by the numbers of technologies that end up as commercial products that then the private-sector companies — even the government — can then acquire them and bring them into operational use.”
Maughan said DHS’ collaborative projects have mostly escaped the budget squeeze of the past few years.
“I think the key there is making sure it’s a true partnership,” he said. “They are providing resources, whether it’s monetary or in-kind, and I think as we try to do that, that allows us to possibly put less money into a project.”
And the appetite for such partnerships — as well as the need for DHS’ leadership — isn’t going anywhere.
“Cybersecurity is becoming more and more important in people’s attitudes and vocabulary,” Maughan said. “And I think that those partnerships are going to continue to grow. … As we move into other areas such as mobile computing and cloud computing and software assurance, it’s forcing us to partner with sectors that we may not have worked with previously. And so as we look to the future, our partnership activities, I believe, will continue to increase, and I think it’s important that are working closely with those private-sector entities to ensure that the research that’s funded ends up into the marketplace so that all can benefit.”