DHS Offers $40M for Cybersecurity Research

In the past few days, both the U.S. departments of Homeland Security and Energy have put out requests for ideas on how to strengthen the federal government’s cybersecurity.

The DHS request solicits proposals (with the lure of $40 million in funding) for research on the rather broad issue of improving the security of both “Federal networks” and the “larger Internet,” while the Energy Department is, logically, focused on managing risk of cyberattacks on the nation’s critical energy infrastructure.

The DHS model – reaching out to civilian experts well-versed in the realities of today’s cyberthreats – to a degree reflects the Estonia’s Cyber Defense League. The Estonian government has created a network of knowledgeable IT professionals who can be mobilized to defend the country’s network when it comes under attack, as it did in 2007 when a group of Russian loyalists launched an assault on many Estonian networks. DHS’s framework is a bit different in that it is soliciting research ideas from companies rather than knowledgeable citizens, but hey – we were told last year that .

All joking aside, taking a bottom-up approach by incentivizing industry research on such a broad problem is, in my opinion, going to be an effective way to secure the country’s IT assets. Instead of having the government’s experts mandate an overarching solution that might not be in touch with the all the nooks and crannies of the entire Web, DHS can now draw on a broad pool of talent, one that deals with these threats every day and is steeped in cybersecurity knowledge.

There still remains the potential for bias among those who select the winning proposals. If their view of cybersecurity is out of touch with its reality, their choices of research inquiries will be, too. Do you think DHS will be able to overcome that? Is there a more effective method for improving cybersecurity?

Posted by Laura Williams on Feb 03, 2011

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