The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) on Thursday announced $10.4 million in eight awards for cybersecurity Mobile Technology Security (MTS) research and development (R&D) to bolster mobile-device security for the federal government.

The MTS R&D award is part of the Mobile Device Security (MDS) R&D project and focuses on four technical areas: mobile device instrumentation, transactional security methods, mobile security management tools, and mobile device layer protection. The goal of MDS R&D is to increase the adoption of secure mobility by government and private sector organizations, the department said.

“Enabling a mobile and secure Federal workforce is essential to achieving mission success. S&T is working to develop innovative and affordable technology solutions that align with government policies and standards while protecting sensitive information from cyber adversaries,” Dr. Reginald Brothers, DHS under secretary for science and technology, said in a statement.

Dr. Reginald Brothers, Under Secretary for Science and Technology, DHS
Dr. Reginald Brothers, Under Secretary for Science and Technology, DHS

The eight awardees are split between the four research areas. Mobile instrumentation research awardees include HRL Laboratories, LLC ($2.2 million), Kryptowire LL ($1.7 million), Northrop Grumman [NOC] ($1.8 million), and United Technologies Researcher Center [UTX] ($791,000).

The transactional security methods research was awarded solely to Rutgers University ($576,000).

The mobile security management tool research awardees were IMB Research [IBM] ($1.35 million) and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte ($760,000). The mobile device layer protection awardee was Intelligent Automation Inc. ($1.2 million)

The goals of the mobile device instrumentation and security management tool research areas are to develop user authentication and identity methods and incorporating identity into a device to keep it secure, the department said. An example of identity methods is learning user behaviors.

The transactional security method research is aimed at developing technologies to securely access data on a mobile device or over a network security system. This allows organizations to provide oversight on their devices. The mobile device layer protection research seeks to create “unique tools to secure the layers of mobile devices” against infections by malicious applications, the department said. Examples include firmware, the operating system, applications, or identity.

“While initially focused on securing mobile devices used by government agencies, these efforts will help provide security for mobile devices across the entire public and private sectors. This project will provide progressive tools, technologies and methods that will accelerate the adoption and use of secure mobile technologies for the future,” Vincent Sritapan, MDS program manager for S&T, said in a statement.

HRL Laboratories, LLC is co-owned by General Motors [GM] and Raytheon [RTN].