DARPA is kicking off a project to create a new way to enable U.S. troops working in remote areas around the world to securely send and receive sensitive information on their devices.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the research arm of the Department of Defense, said it's working on a project that would use software and networking technology to securely share information on unsecured commercial and military networks.
The agency scheduled a Proposer's Day for Jan. 31 to provide more information on the project.
The program, dubbed SHARE, for Secure Handhelds on Assured Resilient networks at the tactical Edge, would be used on handheld devices, laptops or tactical radios.
"Troops forward deployed today have to have multiple laptops or devices that are approved to communicate at various levels of classification," said Joe Evans, DARPA program manager, in a statement. "The vision of SHARE is to develop software that moves the multilevel security management function from a handful of data centers down to trusted, handheld devices on the tactical edge."
To create a resilient secure network that links devices without needing to route traffic through secure data centers, DARPA researchers are working on a three-part approach.
According to DARPA, the project would involve creating software that can rapidly configure security across a network, and would use networking technologies based on resilient and secure architectures that can function in challenging environments.
The third part of the project is to build technologies and policy tools for distributed tactical security management on handheld devices.
"Security has been built on manual processes that take a long time to implement," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. "In this era, that no longer works. Manual processes are too slow. The bad guys work off automated systems and security needs to match that speed."
The U.S. military has soldiers deployed to far-flung areas where they need to share data quickly and safely, and in places where it's impractical to roll out equipment or deploy security engineers.
Machine learning will likely be part of the solution, Kerravala said. "Threats pop up on the fly and security services need to be equally agile," he said. "Smart systems can write software and learn faster than people."
At some point, this new security technology should make its way to the enterprise where businesses can use it to secure communications for itself and for customers, Kerravala noted.
"Having automated security systems can give businesses the comfort that their data will be secured," he said.