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DHS partners with Qualcomm, Kryptowire to develop biometric mobile security API


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has partnered with Qualcomm and Kryptowire to introduce biometrics as part of the Mission Critical Grade Security Layer (MCGSL), an API set that secures mobile devices and fends off attacks, the department announced.

Mobile security is a top government priority, especially since vulnerabilities and exploits may compromise devices used by frontline workers, such as federal law enforcement, to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information.

“With new state-of-the-art capabilities continually being realized in the commercial industry, S&T is working diligently to partner with industry to further strengthen the mobile ecosystem and protect the federal government’s workforce,” said Vincent Sritapan, S&T Mobile Security Research and Development Program Manager, in a prepared statement.

Hackers can leverage tools that bypass current OS and app security, and even roll out malware that can remain dormant until activated or go undetected by existing security software. Chief information security officers in public and private sectors are aware of the risks that may compromise operational data and expose mobile devices, which is why DHS is currently working with the commercial industry to address the issue.

“The MCGSL could help strengthen the mobile ecosystem and the information and communications technology supply chain for user equipment such as smartphones,” said Sritapan. “It significantly raises the bar by checking application behavior and providing continuous protection against cyber-attacks targeting mobile devices.”

The API set is embedded at hardware level to improve transparency over mobile application platforms, monitor third-party app behavior, to check device health and support user authentication through biometric, behavioral and contextual factors.

“MCGSL is a valuable tool that could help mobile security teams root out vulnerabilities in mobile devices before they can compromise sensitive government information,” said Larry Henschel, Senior Advisor at DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, in a prepared statement.

Qualcomm and Kryptowire have delivered a demonstration of how MCGSL upgrades current security practices for mobile threat detection. By leveraging Kryptowire’s military-grade mobile application security platform and Qualcomm’s APIs, the toolkit, developed as part of the Mobile Security Research and Development Program, enhances communication security for government agencies. Many of Qualcomm’s APIs have been integrated with commercial devices such as Samsung phones.

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