The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program awarded $949,999.78 to Honolulu-based small business Oceanit Laboratories, Inc. to develop a sensor system capability that is resistant to spoofing or data manipulation. Sensors, such as range finders, thermal imaging devices, and radio frequency detectors are used in tactical, harsh, and rugged environments like border crossings, ports, or on shipping containers, where they collect a wealth of valuable data that inform critical law enforcement and intelligence missions. However, these networked devices are often difficult to harden or physically protect, and thus, may be vulnerable to cyber-attacks or spoofing.
“This project will help mitigate serious risks to our critical mission areas,” said Kathryn Coulter Mitchell, DHS Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “The development of an advanced system that not only provides valuable data but also protects it from manipulation will allow law enforcement to accurately and efficiently monitor operational situations.”
The DHS SBIR Program, administered by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), selected Oceanit Laboratories, Inc. for a Phase II award following the company’s successful Phase I demonstration of feasibility of their Remote Sensor Data Protection and Anti-Spoofing solution. Oceanit Laboratories, Inc. will continue its research and development efforts on an innovative system that can efficiently and accurately detect and correct sensor spoofing while minimizing false positives from being pushed upstream to operators, analysts, and decision-makers.
“The development of this technology is innovative because it stresses the importance of sensor data integrity and security,” said Brannan Villee, S&T SBIR topic manager. “Typically, focus is placed on computers that process data and not the sensors that actually provide the data. This detection capability will allow users to discern between a physical failure and a cyberattack, which is critical to data confidence and system integrity. In addition, this innovation will support all sensor types and is scalable to a large number of sensors, which offers wide applicability for the government and private sector.”
At the completion of the 24-month Phase II contract, Oceanit Laboratories, Inc. will have developed a prototype to demonstrate the advancement of technology, spearheading the potential for Phase III funding from private sector and/or non-SBIR government sources. The eventual goal for SBIR Phase III technologies is to develop a commercial product for end users. “This effort is a testament to the ability of the SBIR program to tap into small business ingenuity,” said Dusty Lang, DHS SBIR program director. “That ingenuity is ideal for developing technologies to address emerging risks to data integrity.”