When information-security professionals gather to learn about the direction of cybersecurity research and development (R&D), it happens at the federal government’s largest cybersecurity R&D conference.
That was the case last month when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) hosted its 2017 Cyber Security R&D Showcase and Technical Workshop, where the 870 attendees gained deep insight on a range of government cybersecurity R&D projects funded by the S&T Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Cyber Security Division (CSD). The event delivered thought-provoking keynote speakers, information-packed panel discussions and technical presentations representing a combined $250 million of research projects.
“The 2017 R&D Showcase and Technical Workshop was the largest in terms of attendance and number of technical presentations. As a result, it was the most impactful in the event’s relatively short five-year history,” said S&T CSD Director Dr. Douglas Maughan. “It was an excellent forum for introducing CSD’s research portfolio to information-security professionals, system integrators, S&T’s international partners and technology investors.”
The event, sponsored and hosted by the S&T CSD, kicked off July 11 with the R&D Showcase, during which 10 mature cybersecurity technologies and projects were presented by the researchers spearheading each effort. Topics included mobile-application-vetting, automobile cybersecurity, dynamic software analysis, and a repository and visualization portal of the internet’s physical interconnection structure. Later that day, the Technology Demonstration and Poster Session, which featured more than 70 cybersecurity technologies and projects, was very well attended. CSD is part of S&T's Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency.
In his keynote remarks, first-day speaker Rob Joyce, White House cybersecurity coordinator, talked about the evolution of the internet, cloud computing, Internet of Things connected devices and the need for cybersecurity protections. “If you’re 25 or younger, the internet is older than you are,” said Joyce. “It’s grown up in our lifetime.”
Also the first day, a group of experts talked about the importance of cybersecurity education in the nation’s high schools and colleges during a panel discussion. Panelists were Alice Hockenbury of the Girl Scouts USA; Russell Shilling, senior innovation fellow at Digital Promise Global; and Rick Geritz, CEO of LifeJourney. The panel was moderated by Edward Rhyne, CSD Competitions Program Manager.
During day two, a fireside chat of top private-sector and government CxOs—moderated by CSD Mobile Security Program Manager Vincent Sritapan—explored threats, challenges and insights. The four CxOs were:
- Jerry Archer, SallieMae Chief Security Officer
- Alma Cole, CISSP, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
- Robert Palmer, DHS Deputy Chief Technology Officer
- Michael Papay, Northrop Grumman CISO
“Where I think R&D can be the biggest help—and I’ve been pretty vocal about this for the last four years—is applying cybersecurity technologies to the resilience of platforms, whether it’s critical infrastructure or transportation systems.,” said Papay during the discussion.
During his keynote talk that day, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-Rhode Island), a cybersecurity expert on Capitol Hill, stressed the importance of continued investment in cyber R&D. “Cybersecurity and national security will obviously continue to be two sides of the same coin for quite some time, particularly as threat actors where the criminal or terrorist or nation state become more and more sophisticated,” he said. “We cannot just be concerned with protecting the infrastructure as it exists today, rather we have to look to the future to develop the technologies that will protect us tomorrow as well.”
The last day was topped off by cybersecurity expert Dr. Edward Amoroso, founder and CEO of TAG Cyber LLC and formerly senior vice president and chief security officer for AT&T, who delivered a keynote address titled “A Random Walk through Cyber Security.” “I think R&D in particular had been under-attended. I give a lot of credit to Doug [Maughan] and the [Cyber Security Division] team for keeping the spirit of cybersecurity research and development alive in government and in academia,” said Amoroso.
During the Technical Workshop part of the program on the second and third days, attendees learned about CSD’s research portfolio during more than 100 technical presentations encompassing 15 project areas.
In addition to the CSD-funded research presentations, attendees also got an inside look at the global scope of cybersecurity R&D when several “best-in-class” researchers funded by CSD’s international partners presented their research projects.
Seeking to build on the success of this year’s conference, CSD already is planning the 2018 edition of the Cybersecurity R&D Showcase and Technical Workshop, tentatively scheduled for fall next year. Check the CSD Events page for an announcement of dates.