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SRI International Spearheads Two Groundbreaking Efforts to Secure 5G
SRI International announced that it has won two 2022 awards from the National Science Foundation Convergence Accelerator for Cohort - Track G, Phase 1, Securely Operating Through 5G Infrastructure. The NSF Convergence Accelerator is a young, but significant program that builds upon basic research and discovery to accelerate solutions that enable long-lasting societal impact. The awards further SRI's goal of bringing security, testing and analyzing enhancements to unsecured networks and clouds so that the government, enterprises and end-users can protect their data and their ways of working. 

The NSF Convergence Accelerator is an extremely competitive program that has partnered with the Department of Defense, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, to advance 5G technologies and communications. SRI is the only prime organization of the 16 program awardees that received two separate awards, each worth up to $750,000. One project seeks to enhance the security of core 5G infrastructure, the other to allow secure operation over existing 5G networks. 

This work is critical as 5G adoption is accelerating and 5G networks are becoming key components of modern communication systems and essential to national security - creating new opportunities and heightening risks. 5G is also "worryingly hackable." That calls for organizations with the right intellectual property and experience to play a leading role in delivering secure networking solutions.

"SRI knows networking and security, with more than 50 years' experience in these areas," said Patrick Lincoln, vice president of information and computing sciences (ICS) and director of the computer science lab at SRI. "We hosted one of the original network nodes on the internet, blazed the trail of internetworking and pioneered technology to protect vital infrastructures from malicious attacks. Now, we're safeguarding and planning for the future in cybersecurity to help ensure the safety of every person and endpoint that connects to the internet and emerging 5G networks."

In its NSF Convergence Accelerator work, SRI will make core 5G infrastructure inherently more secure and enable military, government and critical infrastructure operators to have the capability to operate through public 5G networks, while meeting security and resilience requirements. The institute will leverage its proven and extensive cybersecurity and networking knowledge, intellectual property and spinout companies AccuKnox and Confidencial to meet the Track G goal. 

SRI will be the first in the world to extend mobile infrastructures with runtime services that will enable 5G network operators to see attacks. This first project, in which SRI spinout company AccuKnox and Ohio State University are subcontractors, will also address a new class of 5G attack surfaces that will arise when the 5G control plane goes into a Kubernetes cloud ecosystem. AccuKnox, whose solution protects applications, data and networking using a high-performance runtime zero-trust container, has deep expertise in implementing cloud and Kubernetes security.

For the second NSF Convergence Accelerator project, SRI will head up an effort to provide easily integratable software overlays to secure 5G. Subcontractors include SRI spinout Confidencial, which provides privacy-enhancing technologies to secure sensitive information within existing business applications; Good Research, which provides expertise in user experience research, privacy engineering and data protection; and the University of San Diego's Center for Digital Civil Society, which is working to establish a new type of relationship with data in partnership with the public, industry and academia that better reflects core values such as accountability, legibility and resilience.

"Ensuring the cybersecurity and resilience of critical networks is an important and challenging problem. That's why the market is crowded with cybersecurity solution providers," said Todd Stavish, vice president of SRI Ventures. "The fact that SRI and two of our spinout companies have been chosen to participate in two NSF Convergence Accelerator projects highlights the uniqueness of SRI's cybersecurity and networking intellectual property and knowledge, our track record of innovation and results, our work with our spinouts to extend our innovations into commercial solutions and our unrivaled government experience." 

Published Tuesday, September 20, 2022 10:21 AM by David Marshall
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