Applied Cybersecurity Research for Better Protection of Critical National Infrastructure Sectors

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) awarded a five-year Other Transaction Agreement (OTA), with a maximum value of $70 million, to Arlington, Virginia-based Cyber Apex Solutions, LLC, to facilitate applied research of prototype cyberdefenses for critical national infrastructure sectors.

Through this OTA contract, S&T will fund testing, evaluation and transition of prototype cybersecurity technologies that will reduce risk of cyberattacks to critical infrastructure sectors, beginning with the financial services industry. S&T will enter into projects with members of a consortium established by Cyber Apex Solutions through individual project agreements.

S&T says thatCyber Apex Solutions will work closely with the S&T Next Generation Cyber Infrastructure Apex (NGCI Apex) program, administered by S&T’s Cyber Security Division (CSD).

“The increase in the frequency and severity of cyberattacks on the nation’s financial services sector are a major national concern,” said Acting DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology William N. Bryan. “The applied research spearheaded through this innovative agreement will result in stronger cyber-defenses for this critical part of the national economy.”

Established in 2016, the NGCI Apex program is enabling DHS S&T, the Department of Treasury and major financial services entities to work jointly to address cybersecurity concerns. Initially, the NGCIApex program will focus on deployment and transition of cutting-edge technologies for the financial sector. In subsequent phases, the tools and technologies developed will be adapted to address a broader set of critical infrastructure sectors, including the government, energy and communications sectors.

NGCI Apex will focus on delivering enhanced cyber capabilities to the nation’s leading financial entities in five key areas: dynamic defense, network characterization, malware detection, software assurance and insider threat. Cyber-gaps within these broad areas will be identified and defined by the Cyber Apex Review Team (CART), a group of chief information security officers and cybersecurity experts from financial institutions as well as representatives of the Treasury Department and DHS S&T.

Once a gap is identified, the NGCI Apex program will work with Cyber Apex Solutions, which is building a consortium of cybersecurity researchers, companies and academics, to locate consortium members that already have developed possible solutions and technologies. DHS S&T will provide selection guidance to Cyber Apex Solutions on awardee(s) for each research project and jointly with the company will manage the prototyping, piloting, deployment and transition phases.

“This OTA provides a streamlined, fast-track approach to identifying and modifying existing cybersecurity technologies for financial services sector applications,” said NGCI Apex Program Manager Eric Harder. “In this way, Cyber Apex Solutions in essence will be acting as a clearinghouse for cyber technologies by working with consortium members to modify, test and evaluate their products’s capabilities against the needs and requirements provided by the CART membership.”

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