For Immediate Release
DHS S&T Press Office, John Verrico, (202) 254-2385
WASHINGTON—The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) today announced that for the first time two of its Transition to Practice (TTP) program cybersecurity technologies have been commercialized simultaneously by a single company.
The complementary technologies—MLSTONES and Digital Ants—were licensed exclusively by IP Group, an intellectual property commercialization company that provides insight, capital and supporting infrastructure to technologies from universities and laboratories, and transferred to a newly formed portfolio company called Cynash, Inc. The new company will integrate these complementary technologies into a novel cyber-defense technique and introduce the new cybersecurity solution to the marketplace.
“These commercial transitions represent the fourth and fifth over the past five months through S&T’s Transition to Practice program, and, for the first time, two related but different cybersecurity solutions were simultaneously licensed by a single company,” said DHS Acting Under Secretary for Science and Technology William N. Bryan. “This is a remarkable example of S&T’s ability to move federally funded technologies over the so-called ‘Valley of Death’ and into the commercial marketplace where they can be put to use.”
Developed by researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, both technologies were inspired by biology approaches. MLSTONES was selected for TTP’s inaugural cohort in 2013 while Digital Ants was selected the following year.
MLSTONES is a set of algorithms based on the concept of protein sequencing to recognize similarities in data that are distantly related but still statistically significant. These algorithms recognize similarities to help quickly find a proverbial needle (a cyber-event) in a proverbial haystack of data. The technology can reduce extremely large data sets to much smaller sets that enable identification and classification of malicious code in real time. It also can help identify cyber-events that were not previously known.
Digital Ants uses dynamic, decentralized mechanisms inspired by nature to provide mobile, resilient cybersecurity for protecting large enterprise IT networks and critical infrastructure systems. Digital Ants’s sensors are lightweight, interpreted programs that are installed on a network or system. The individual, ant-like sensors are always on the move from machine to machine via hosted software to constantly gather and evaluate metrics such as CPU usage, network bandwidth and memory use. When a sensor identifies an anomaly such as malware, it leaves behind a digital trail that attracts other sensors to the anomaly in the compromised machine. Once a large number of sensors have formed a sensor swarm, a notification is sent to network or system administrators, who then can isolate and take remedial steps on areas and issues of concern.
TTP technologies go through a structured transition process designed to increase maturity and market readiness and are introduced to investors, developers and integrators who can advance the technologies and turn them into commercially viable products. To facilitate these connections, TTP hosts “Demo Day” events around the country to showcase the technologies to cybersecurity professionals, spur pilots and start the technologies on the road to commercialization.
“The integration of these two nature-inspired technologies will result in an innovative cyber-defense product,” said TTP Program Manager Nadia Carlsten. “This transition illustrates the effectiveness of the TTP program in identifying new strategies to get technologies to market. By exploring business models that leverage multiple technologies to solve industry needs, we’ve been able to make our portfolio more attractive, especially to investors who are seeking solutions that will make an impact on the market.”
The TTP program, which is administered by S&T’s Cyber Security Division (CSD), part of the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, complements the S&T process of funding projects through the full research-and-development (R&D) lifecycle and into the commercial marketplace. Each fiscal year, the TTP program identifies the most promising cybersecurity technologies developed at federal laboratories, federally funded research and development centers, and university affiliated research centers for selection into the transition-to-market program.
TTP currently has 40 technologies in its portfolio. With these latest marketplace transitions, the program to date has successfully transitioned a dozen technologies through commercialization and five through open source.
CSD’s mission is to enhance the security and resilience of the nation’s critical information infrastructure and the internet by developing and delivering new technologies, tools, and techniques to defend against cyberattacks. CSD conducts and supports technology transitions and leads and coordinates R&D among DHS customers, government agencies, the private sector and international partners. For more information about CSD, visit https://www.dhs.gov/cyber-research.