Labs transferring cybersecurity to industry

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Through the Department of Homeland Security’s Transition to Practice (TTP) program, cybersecurity technologies developed at Sandia National Laboratories – and at other federal labs – now stand a better chance of finding their way into the real world.

The innovative TTP program, spearheaded by the department’s Science and Technology Directorate, helps move federally funded cybersecurity technologies into broader use. Getting research discoveries and new technologies over the so-called “valley of death” – the gap between early, promising research on one side and technology that’s in use on the other – is a dire need in the national lab community.

“Moving technologies from the laboratory into actual practice is difficult,” said Steve Hurd, a cybersecurity researcher who helps lead Sandia’s TTP efforts. He said one major reason is that technologies that seem to work in the lab might need fine-tuning or further upgrades in the field.

“So TTP is an inventive attempt to help all the labs improve in this area,” Hurd continued. “It’s paying dividends already by opening doors that will get new innovative cyber defense technologies from Sandia and other laboratories into the hands of industry, academia and other research institutions that can really use them.”

TTP’s methodology is straightforward. Department of Homeland Security’s Mike Pozmantier, the program manager for TTP in the S&T Cyber Security Division, conducts events across the country each year that feature cyber technologies developed at Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Defense (DoD) laboratories and selected for evaluation by DHS. The events are targeted to specific sectors and audiences, including those in the federal government and the high-tech, energy, financial and critical infrastructure sectors.

The goal is to generate interest, initiate conversations and build relationships and business partnerships that get important cyber technologies, including some developed at Sandia, into practice. That could be accomplished through pilot programs with industry, licensing or spinning off of technologies into startup companies through venture capital funding.

To support this process, selected technologies go through testing and evaluation to assess whether they’re ready for a practical pilot test or commercialization. Technology providers also get help readying their technologies for market.

In addition to considering Sandia-developed cyber technologies for transition, DHS uses Sandia’s cybersecurity expertise to test and evaluate TTP technologies developed by other DOE and DoD labs.

In TTP’s kickoff year, three cyber technologies were selected from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, two from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and one each from Sandia, Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos labs. When TTP expanded its reach to DoD labs in its second year, two Sandia technologies, SecuritySeal and WeaselBoard, were selected. Now, in its third year, the TTP program again selected two Sandia technologies, the Sandia Cyber Omni Tracker and Network Randomization Tool for Integrated Computer Solutions.


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