New Initiative: U.S. Offers Cybersecurity Tech to Private Sector

Cybersecurity technology from Los Alamos National Laboratory is now available to banks and other private sector businesses, via the consulting firm Ernst & Young. The New Mexico lab, benefitting from the $1 billion the U.S. spends a year on unclassified cybersecurity research, has developed a great deal of relevant technology, but is not set up to market the results of its own research. Ernst & Young, which consults on cybersecurity, will communicate the lab’s products and add its own expertise.

Bloomberg reports that Siobhan MacDermott, an EY principal for cybersecurity, notes that government and the private sector experience the same threats, but are “still seeking ways to work together to improve collective cybersecurity.”

acquisitionThe partnership comes at a time of increased risks. Navy Admiral Michael Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, estimates that every year hackers steal U.S. trade secrets worth around $400 billion.

PathScan, the first technology to be made available to private companies, detects “abnormal activity on networks that indicates the presence of hackers.” This is no small problem. According to FireEye, a network security company, hackers operate, on average, on a network for 200 days before being discovered. EY reports that five companies are already testing PathScan and are finding it useful.

PathScan took a three-year journey from the lab to commercial availability, being first identified as “valuable to commercial ventures” by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate.

But not everyone is convinced the venture will work. Vikram Phatak, chief executive of NSS Labs, a private company that independently tests cybersecurity technology, says it remains to be seen how “useful and relevant” government-created technology will be in the private sector environment.

He’s not alone in expressing those concerns. Consulting company Frost & Sullivan research director Frank Dickson thinks the government would do better “by providing grants to help universities train cybersecurity experts.”