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News Release: DHS S&T Awards International Computer Science Institute $664K for Data Privacy Research and Development

News Release: DHS S&T Awards International Computer Science Institute $664K for Data Privacy Research and Development

Release Date: 
June 29, 2016

For Immediate Release
DHS Science & Technology Press Office
Contact: John Verrico, (202) 254-2385

Washington, DC – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has awarded $664,378 to Berkeley, California-based International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) to develop a first-of-its-kind technology that will detect privacy intrusions on mobile devices and alert the device owner to act to protect their private information.

The ICSI project—titled “A Platform for Contextual Mobile Privacy”—was awarded through the DHS S&T Cyber Security Division’s (CSD) Broad Agency Announcement (HSHQDC-14-R-B0014-TTA-3-0017-I. The award is part of CSD’s larger data privacy program that works to develop innovative, easy-to-use and cost-effective privacy-enhancing technologies that quickly can be deployed by the public and government organizations.

“The protection of personally identifiable information is paramount to ensuring our personal and financial well-being, especially given the widespread adoption of smart phones and tablet computers,” said DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Reginald Brothers. “Through this new award, S&T is working to develop technology that will secure the private information we store on our mobile devices from adversaries seeking to compromise our personal and financial identities.”

The S&T Cyber Security Division’s (CSD) Data Privacy Program is aligned with Federal Cyber Security Research and Development strategic initiatives to develop a targeted set of research priorities to ensure the internet is safe, trustworthy and prosperous. ICSI will apply privacy principles to safeguard private and sensitive information stored on ubiquitous mobile devices.

“Addressing privacy concerns with connected devices and mobile computing is essential in today’s highly mobile society and economy,” said Anil John, S&T Data Privacy Program Manager. “S&T CSD is working with ICSI and its other partners to develop innovative solutions that ensure the security of our mobile-stored PII.”

The two most pressing privacy issues common with the use of mobile devices are a lack of public understanding about how third-party applications access personal data and users inadvertently disclosing personal information.

ICSI will develop a system to safeguard personally identifiable information stored on or transmitted by mobile devices. The system will determine whether an application’s request for personal/sensitive data is unexpected. Further, when a user generates new content—for example, a photo, audio or video—the system will determine whether sensitive data, such as the user’s location, can be ascertained from the new content. In both instances, when an unexpected privacy event is detected, the system will notify the user with relevant information and prompt him or her to decide how to handle the identified privacy risk.

For more information about CSD’s Data Privacy Program, visit https://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/csd-privacy.

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