The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency rolled out a new initiative this week that allows the Defense Department to easily fund projects for hackers and small security firms to help strengthen its cybersecurity efforts.
Peiter Zatko, DARPA project manager and former hacker, announced yesterday the launch of the “Cyber Fast Track” during his keynote speech at the Black Hat conference. The program, officially DARPA RA-11-52, is expected to fund between 20 and 100 cybersecurity software and research projects a year at “considerably under $1 million,“ Zatko said.
“This effort will consider all types of cybersecurity research and development,” read the official DARPA announcement. “Of particular interest are efforts with the potential to reduce attack surface areas, reverse current asymmetries, or that are strategic, rather than tactical in nature. Proposed technologies may be hardware, software, or any combination thereof.”
Zatko explained he aimed to start funding hackers and security firms to make it easier for them to compete with the large, traditional government contractors. He believes the government has had difficulties in quickly mitigating cyber threats due to the rules and regulations set in place.
He hopes this new project will allow the government to work with hacking experts more quickly and efficiently. “One of the ways I see fixing it is bridging the gap between the government and the hacker community,” he said.
The initiative will have a quick turnaround time, responding to approved requests with contracts within 14 days. Developers would keep commercial intellectual property rights and the government would get government purpose rights.