Guest post from Stephanie Okimoto, Director of the Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) International Cooperative Programs Office (ICPO)
The world is more interconnected today than it has ever been. You can order a new shirt from a designer in Europe while waiting for the light to change on your morning run as you follow the new route you mapped out on an app on your watch. When you get home, that same watch can tell you that it’s time to check in for your business trip to London, remind you of your conference call with partners in Singapore, show you what weather looks like in Toronto…even measure how fast your heart rate is when your credit card app notifies you that your personal data may have been compromised by someone an ocean away.
These digital connection points present incredible opportunities to connect, innovate, and improve our lives, but they also represent an interconnected threat environment that goes beyond a single location. We know that protecting our homeland requires cooperation and coordination with partners across the board, and that good ideas can come from all over—including government, industry and academia, wherever they are in the world.
S&T’s international engagements allow us to discover innovation, leverage international research and development capabilities, drive solutions, and influence science and technology security advancement worldwide. ICPO works closely with our colleagues across S&T (like the new Critical Infrastructure Security & Resilience Research Program) and across the Department of Homeland Security—particularly with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency—to identify, develop, and action international engagement to advance our collective safety and security as it relates to cybersecurity.
For us, ‘cyber’ includes areas of cybersecurity research and development, foundational research on quantum systems, critical infrastructure as it relates to cyber intrusions (i.e., industrial control systems), and risk management approaches to cyber threats to critical infrastructure, as well as identifying where it may be appropriate to engage internationally in the important areas of work that S&T is investing in domestically. Because at the end of the day, a smart and unified global cybersecurity strategy only benefits our overall security here at home.
Below are a few examples of how S&T is actively engaging both formal bilateral partners and emerging international collaborators to uncover innovative solutions to our shared problems. Together, we’re focusing our efforts on three key areas, finding ways to leverage our individual capabilities to multiply the impact of our work across the world.
- Focus #1: Deepening cyber coordination with established partners—This year, we initiated new efforts with the United Kingdom (UK) Home Office and UK National Cyber Security Centre to address key homeland security mission initiatives, including the effective defense of our critical national infrastructure. We also signed a Joint Statement of Intent with the Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) that reflects a shared commitment to work together to combat ransomware, bolster cooperative research and development, strengthen critical infrastructure cybersecurity, increase resilience to cyber threats, and pursue expert exchanges in the area of emerging technology.
- Focus #2: Engaging the global innovation ecosystem—S&T and the Israel Ministry of Public Security (MOPS) have partnered since 2016 to fund collaborative research and development projects with significant commercial potential to address the homeland security needs of both countries through the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Program. This year, S&T, MOPS, and INCD issued a new call for proposals seeking to develop advanced cybersecurity applications for mission-critical homeland security needs. The call is still open, and the deadline to submit executive summaries is November 15.
- Focus #3: Expand emerging partnerships—ICPO works closely with partners across the world to leverage leading research, harness digital technologies, and enable access to unique operational testbed environments. For instance, S&T is engaging partners in the Republic of Korea on innovation in cybersecurity and public security, is forging global innovation alliances with Singapore, and continuing to develop comprehensive strategies with partners across Europe.
The innovations we advance and the lessons we learn together with our international partners continue to make us all safer in the future. No matter what time our watches read or what path we take on our morning run.