Partnership for Cybersecurity Innovation

Today, Obama Administration officials released a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of the Department of Commerce, the Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS/S&T), and the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council (FSSCC). The goal of the agreement is to speed the commercialization of cybersecurity research innovations that support our Nation’s critical infrastructures.

The agreement establishes a framework for collaboration between the public and private sectors as directed by President Obama in his cybersecurity policy address:

We will collaborate with industry to find technology solutions that ensure our security and promote prosperity.”

- President Obama, May 29, 2009

Financial services—banking and credit card transactions, insurance, trading and funds management, and many other business and consumer financial activities—are increasingly provided online.  These services are essential in the daily lives of citizens, critical for the fast-paced conduct of modern business, and required for the healthy pulse of eCommerce, locally to globally. As a result, threats to these services are threats to individuals, companies, and the Nation.  Ensuring these online services are reliable, accurate, safe, and secure against threats is a shared responsibility of the public and private sectors alike.  Many of the innovations emerging from the partnership will extend beyond financial services to online health services, the Smart Grid, and the Nation’s water, transportation, and other critical infrastructures.

This agreement will accelerate the deployment of network testbeds for specific use cases that strengthen the resiliency, security, integrity, and usability of financial services and other critical infrastructures’ functions, processes, and people by:

  1. Facilitating coordination and cooperation among Federal agencies and the financial services sector in the development and delivery of innovative cybersecurity technologies and processes; and

  2. Establishing clear processes for the implementation of specific use cases.

The strengths of this partnership lie in the unique capabilities of its members. The FSSCC—whose participants include banks, credit unions, insurance companies, payment services, trading firms, and others—supports research and development initiatives to protect the physical and electronic infrastructure of the banking and finance sector and to protect its customers by enhancing the sector’s resilience and integrity.

NIST advances the state of the art in information technology and cybersecurity through innovations in mathematics, statistics, and computer science and conducts research to develop the measurement and standards infrastructure for emerging information technologies and applications. Working with industry, other government agencies, and academia, the Institute accelerates the development and deployment of IT systems that are reliable, usable, interoperable, and secure.

The Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is the Department of Homeland Security’s research and development arm. Among its priorities, S&T conducts—in cooperation with other Federal agencies, state, local, and tribal governments, universities, and private industry—cybersecurity research and development to secure the Nation’s current and future cyber and critical infrastructures.

In this global, digital age, the Nation’s competitiveness and prosperity depend on cybersecurity.  Working together, these partners will use the power of innovation to make cyberspace safer and more resilient for the Nation, its citizens, and its businesses.

Aneesh Chopra is U.S. Chief Technology Officer

Howard A. Schmidt is Cybersecurity Coordinator and Special Assistant to the President, National Security Staff

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