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DHS issues three awards to develop new mobile authentication technologies


The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology directorate has awarded HRL Laboratories, United Technologies Research Center, and Northrop Grumman nearly $5 million to research new mobile authentication technologies, according to a report by Fed Scoop.

The three companies were given awards under the directorate’s cybersecurity division’s five-year Broad Agency Announcement, which included $2.2 million to HRL, $1.7 million to Northrop Grumman, and $790,000 to UTRC.

Each award will go toward researching and developing new technologies to accelerate the adoption of secure mobility practices in the federal government and private sector.

Additionally, all three awards are focused on developing a specific secure authentication method that will serve as a security measure against looming threats without sacrificing the mobile device’s overall performance.

HRL will develop a low-power anomaly detection system that is based on a “brain-inspired” algorithm of learning user behaviors.

Researchers are aiming to make the system capable of detecting behavioral anomalies from native mobile device sensors and differentiate between false positives and actual user behavior, to ensure “unobtrusive, continuous behavior-based authentication.”

“Given the recent cyber intrusions, it’s even more important to enable secure mobile authentication for our mobile devices,” said Vincent Sritapan, a DHS cybersecurity division program manager. “With performers like HRL Labs, we can build innovative secure technologies that leverage sensors on the device, use breakthrough low power technologies, and provide new forms of mobile access control that defends against adversaries.”

UTRC will be developing a system that provides continuous risk assessment and flexible credential management.

The Context-Aware Security Technology for Responsive and Adaptive Protection (CASTRA) will provide context-aware authentication, using the processing and sensing capabilities of mobile devices without hindering the overall user experience.

Finally, Northrop Grumman will be developing a system that tracks user behavior using machine learning to compare recent behaviors.

The system will prompt users to authenticate themselves if it detects any anomalies in behavior, as well as lock or wipe devices if they fail to successfully complete the authentication process.

“Mobile devices have become critical tools for government personnel to accomplish our mission,” said Reginald Brothers, DHS Undersecretary for Science and Technology. “Developing and implementing security technology on the mobile device is key to protecting sensitive information. This project will provide an innovative solution for making sure information is kept safe.”

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