Oct 06 2015

DARPA Takes on New Challenge: Protecting IoT

The agency is on a mission to secure IoT from hacking.

Because the Internet presents infinite possibilities, it also presents nearly infinite questions and concerns. One confounding concern is how to protect the sprawling Internet of Things (IoT), and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has taken on the daunting task of securing it.

DARPA began its quest by unveiling its Leveraging the Analog Domain for Security (LADS) program, FedScoop reports. The initiative was revealed last week when DARPA posted a broad agency announcement on the Federal Business Oportunities website. According to FedScoop, the LADS program was established to figure how to secure the most basic IoT network functions:

These devices, called Embedded and Mission Specific Devices (EMSD), are often limited by low computational ability, lack of consistent connectivity and simplistic hardware. These factors make security efforts more difficult than those standard in desktops and handhelds, which are — in theory, at least — fortified by secure hardware, layered software defenses and regularly updated operating systems.

Furthermore, LADS would offer protection by separating a system’s weakest points, thus preventing the entire system from being corrupted. FedScoop adds that the first phase will focus on fundamental cybersecurity techniques and the following two phases will address increasingly complex issues. However, because EMSDs come with restrictions, this process remains a challenge:

DARPA has identified a number of preliminary suggestions, including potential efforts to “associate the running state of a device with involuntary analog emissions from said device across one or more physical modalities, including, but not limited to, electromagnetic emissions, acoustic emanations, power fluctuations and thermal output variations.”

DARPA has been allotted $36 million for the first phase. It says it intends to establish an IoT cybersecurity plan by mid-2020.


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