Guest post from Melissa Oh, Managing Director of S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) in the Office of Industry Partnerships.
As the weather cools, people bundle up and stay indoors, switching to a more digital-centric lifestyle. This reliance on digital products provides more opportunities for hackers to strike. When the United States encountered its first cases of COVID-19 in 2020, cyber criminals took advantage of the transition to quarantine and were responsible for a spike of U.S. reported cyberattacks by nearly 60% (PDF, 33 pgs. 1.31 MB), resulting in a total loss of $4.2 billion. The U.S. saw an increased number attacks the following year, and experienced the most international cybercrime out of any country.
The theme of this year’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which kicks off on October 1, is “See Yourself in Cyber”—an important reminder that the most effective way to defend against cyber threats is to ensure people are informed and actively follow cyber safety best practices to minimize the number of opportunities for cyber criminals to exploit. It’s easier and less costly to prevent cyberattacks from occurring than to recover from the impact after the fact.
When cyber incidents do occur, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) coordinates the national response to significant cyber incidents, assists potentially impacted entities, analyzes the potential impact across critical infrastructure, and conducts high-impact investigations to prevent future cyberattacks. DHS plays a critical role in securing the nation against cyber threats and requires the most groundbreaking technology to support it in its mission.
Here at the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), we play a vital role in supporting those managing and using our nation’s vast cyber systems. And working with partners across industry, academia, and laboratories plays a big part in that. One way we expand DHS’ reach and engage with those who have their fingers on the pulse of cyber R&D is by leveraging our Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) to find new technologies that strengthen national security and reshape how government, entrepreneurs, and industry work together to find cutting-edge solutions.
The program reaches out to innovation communities across the nation and around the world to harness the commercial R&D ecosystem for technologies with government applications and to co-invest in and accelerate technology transition-to-market. SVIP currently has an open topic call in partnership with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Software Supply Chain Visibility Tools, to improve the transparency of the software supply chain and ensure the security of critical infrastructure. The deadline for applications is October 3, 2022, at 12 p.m. PT.
Since its inception, SVIP has remained committed to identifying and developing the most innovative technology to support DHS in its mission to fortify the nation’s cybersecurity. It has identified 16 technologies from three separate cybersecurity topic calls: Financial Services Cyber Security Active Defense, Identity and Anti-Spoofing of Non-Person Entities, and Internet of Things Security.
Another S&T program, the newly launched Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Cyber Program, partnered with Israel’s National Cyber Directorate to release its first Call for Proposals. The program is seeking collaborative projects between U.S. and Israeli entities to develop advanced cybersecurity applications for mission-critical homeland security needs, including those of CISA. BIRD Cyber will provide grants of up to $1.5 million per project, funding up to 50 percent of the combined research and development budget. Executive summaries are due on November 15, 2022.
Through SVIP and BIRD Cyber, S&T is taking an active role in preventing cyberattacks from occurring by identifying and developing some of the most innovative cyber technology for the safety of the nation and its people. Partners, tell us: How do you "See Yourself in Cyber"?