“Cybersecurity is a global sport!” That is the worldview Dr. Douglas Maughan takes when it comes to fighting cyber-threats. Maughan, director of the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) Cyber Security Division (CSD), uses that phrase to spotlight the partnerships S&T has with numerous government and international cybersecurity entities around the world.
Because of this need for a global focus, CSD, part of S&T's Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, has established active partnerships with cybersecurity organizations in 13 countries—including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Singapore and Israel—and an international body—the European Union.
A shining example of a mutually beneficial partnership is the cooperative relationship CSD enjoys with its counterparts in the Netherlands: the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and the country’s National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), part of the Ministry of Security and Justice.
The U.S.-Dutch research-and-development (R&D) partnership spans numerous years and encompasses a range of activities, capped most recently with the announcement of an innovative $2.6 million funding opportunity that promotes the formation of joint U.S.-Dutch research teams.
The goal of this newest initiative—announced mid-May—is to strengthen R&D collaboration between top cybersecurity researchers from both nations. The two research focus areas for the bilateral call are Industrial Control Systems/Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and Distributed Denial of Service Defenses. In all, the partners plan to fund up to five unified research proposals that detail a full program of work to be conducted by teams comprised of academia, industry and laboratory (U.S. only) researchers from both countries.
Under the program, half of the R&D funding will be provided by CSD through its International Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) HSHQDC-17-R-B001, which was published on FedBizOpps in February. This five-year, $9.5 million BAA will be used to facilitate cooperative cybersecurity R&D activities with CSD’s current and future international partners. Funding from the BAA will be awarded to U.S.-based researchers.
Meanwhile, NWO and NCSC will award funding for the other half of the program to researchers based in the Netherlands.
Interested U.S.-Netherlands cybersecurity research teams have until August 31, 2017 to submit a combined proposal to their respective country’s participating organization.
“This bilateral call is a significant step forward in CSD’s partnership program with international cybersecurity organizations,” said Maughan, when the funding opportunity was announced. “We are excited because this first-of-its-kind funding will bring about cooperative partnerships between U.S.- and Netherlands-based researchers, bringing a truly global perspective to an international concern: the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure and networks.”
“With this joint call we reaffirm our joint mission to foster stronger research links between the Netherlands and the U.S. and strengthen collaboration between our nations’ best cybersecurity researchers. We can only address the challenges we face now and in the future by investing in our shared knowledge,” said Patricia Zorko, director of cybersecurity in the Ministry of Security and Justice.
This cooperative funding opportunity builds upon research projects previously conducted jointly by the two countries. Since 2013, CSD in cooperation with NCSC and NWO has worked on the following research projects:
Malware on Smartphones: Collection, Analysis and Defensive Measures—In this project, the two sides jointly worked to create an online analysis engine that can detect potentially malicious activity or a capability to induce potentially malicious activity in apps.
Reducing the Challenges to Making Cybersecurity Investments in the Private Sector—Under this project, the two sides developed models and policies for encouraging private-sector entities, especially those in the critical infrastructure sphere, to invest in cybersecurity protections.
Increasing the Impact of Voluntary Action against Cybercrime—Through this project CSD and its Netherlands counterparts sought to identify the factors that make voluntary notifications of cybercrime by Internet Service Providers more effective.
Improving Cyber Security Incident Response Teams—This joint undertaking focused on the development of principles, processes and decision aids that inform and enhance government and private-sector organizations to staff, train, support and sustain effective cyber security incident response teams.
In addition, the two Netherlands organizations have collaborated with CSD on the Information Marketplace for Policy and Analysis of Cyber-risk and Trust (IMPACT) project, which enables empirical data and information sharing among the global cybersecurity R&D community; a modeling of internet attacks project spearheaded by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and a SCADA defense project.
“The U.S.-Netherlands partnership provides benefits to both countries and helps strengthen our respective cybersecurity postures,” said Maughan. “In short, we are proud to call our Dutch colleagues ‘partners’!”