The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) awarded five contracts totaling $7.8 million for research on technologies to defend cyber physical systems, the department said Thursday.

The contracts were awarded through a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA, HSHQDC-14-R- B00017). They projects approved are part of the department’s S&T Cyber Security Division’s (CSD) Cyber Physical Systems Security (CPSSEC) program.


The awards specifically work to address vulnerabilities and strengthen security in the automotive, building control systems, and medical device sectors. The cyber physical systems named are sometimes included in the term Internet of Things (IoT), non-personal computers connected to the internet.

In automotive security the research is directed toward building an infrastructure for secure and reliable update systems for both government and privately-owned vehicles. The building control systems work is aimed at developing early-warning systems and layered architecture to enforce security and safety requirements in case of a cyber-physical attack. Medical device security research is to support the creation of a safe and secure national biomedical device network and automated risk management framework to integrate security in all phases of a device life cycle.

“Design choices made today will directly impact the nation’s industries and critical infrastructure sectors over the next several decades,” the S&T directorate said.

The recipients were New York University for $1.4 million; University of Michigan, $1.2 million; HRL Laboratories, LLC, $2.5 million; Kansas State University, $900,000; and Medical Device Innovation, Safety and Security Consortium of New York, $1.8 million.

“In our daily lives, we use a complex network of devices–in our cars, homes, offices and hospitals– all of which require attention from a homeland security perspective. S&T aims to be vigilant against these potential threats and address security in a serious way,” Reginald Brothers, DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology, said in a statement.

“This interconnectivity brings significant conveniences but also introduces new cyber threats. The goal of the CPSSEC program is to ensure secure designs become an operational requirement,”  Dan Massey, S&T CPSSEC Program Manager, added.

The S&T CSD research efforts also include international partnerships with the United Kingdom’s Center for the Protection of National Infrastructure and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory; Defence Research and Development Canada; and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency.