DHS seeking out new cybersecurity projects

Most would agree that the U.S. government faces a serious challenge in the realm of cybersecurity. Hackers are constantly becoming more sophisticated in their techniques and tools, making it difficult for federal agencies to keep pace. Yet failing to do so can have severe consequences.

In order to address some of these issues, the Department of Homeland Security is offering funding for cybersecurity research projects developed by companies, universities and other organizations, a new Forrester Research report revealed.

New ideas needed
As Ed Ferrara, a principal analyst for Forrester and author of the report, noted, the federal government is currently not making much in the way of progress toward improving its cybersecurity posturing. There are dozens of related legislative proposals before Congress, but none of these are moving forward. This, he explained, makes the new DHS initiative particularly important, as it represents an opportunity to explore new avenues and ideas for cybersecurity protection.

For this effort, private sector businesses, academic institutions and other organization types are asked to submit proposals for innovative yet unfunded cybersecurity projects. Those deemed worthwhile by the DHS will receive funding to pursue their research goals, Forrester explained. As of now, the DHS intends to disburse $95 million for this purpose over the course of the next three to five years. 

"At the tactical agency level … this particular effort is a bright spot in a pretty bleak governmental landscape," Ferrara said, InformationWeek reported. "It's not nearly enough, but it is certainly a step in the right direction."

Key areas of focus
According to Forrester, the DHS is particularly interested in cybersecurity initiatives that address several key areas. 

One of these issues is mobile security. As InformationWeek reported, DHS is looking for cybersecurity tools that can authenticate mobile device users and perform risk assessments on these gadgets. Considering the rapid rise of BYOD policies among federal agencies, such a focus on mobile security is unsurprising.

The DHS is also interested in strategies for fighting off distributed denial of service cyberattacks. DDoS attacks are a popular option among hackers and can have significant consequences for the targeted organizations. 

Additionally, the DHS is seeking cybersecurity projects that address data privacy and regulatory compliance. For example, strategies for ensuring privacy is preserved in the context of federated search capabilities are highly desired.

Challenges ahead
As Ferrara noted, this project may be a step in the right direction, but major challenges remain.

"Things are getting worse," Ferrara said, InformationWeek reported. "The number of attacks is up, the severity of the attacks is up and the visibility of the attacks is up. You never saw things like this on the front pages [before], and now it is front page news."

This goes to show that federal agencies cannot hope to rely solely on other departments for cybersecurity protection. On the contrary, agencies need to take proactive steps to ensure their resources remain safe and secure. Working with a third-party cybersecurity solutions provider will often be the ideal solution in this regard, as these organizations can provide insight, training and guidance to minimize threats and maximize results.