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DHS Wants to Verify Drones, Devices are What They Say They Are

A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol drone aircraft lifts off at Ft. Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Ariz.

A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol drone aircraft lifts off at Ft. Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Ariz. // Matt York/AP File Photo

The Homeland Security Department wants to ensure its electronic devices can't be spoofed, and it's looking to the private sector for help.

DHS' Silicon Valley outpost is gathering applications from companies that can help it assure the identity of devices on its networks, potentially including wearables and drones. 

For instance, if emergency responders are wearing devices that monitor their vital signs, and that information is relayed back to a central office, how can that office ensure the data is real and not corrupted? If a border patrol drone is monitoring a geographic area for any anomalies, how might humans verify no one has tampered with the images coming in?

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Eligible companies would provide systems that can assure DHS personnel of the identity of devices on its networks, especially when the data those devices are transmitting is confidential, according to a FedBizOpps posting.

Anti-spoofing technology exists on the commercial market today, but DHS users face various challenges that might require new solutions, according to the department. When they're used on the field, devices might need security systems that don't use much energy or computing power. They might not always be connected to a network, and therefore may not be able to accommodate the most current cryptographic technology.

DHS plans to make awards of between $50,000 and $200,000 in the first phase of the project, with performance periods of three to six months. The call is open til 2018, with four separate deadlines for application: July 28, Oct. 27 and Jan. 1 and May 3 of next year.

The solicitation is offered through DHS' Silicon Valley Innovation Program's Other Transactions system, which allows the department to award small contracts quicker than the traditional acquisition process.

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