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DARPA Awards Tech Firms $4.8 Million to Help Government Find Backdoors


Raytheon and GrammaTech Partner to Help U.S. Government Detect Malware in IT Devices

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a $4.8 million contract to two tech firms to help U.S. government agencies detect malicious code and hidden “backdoors” in commodity IT devices.

As part of DARPA’s VET program Raytheon BBN and GrammaTech will be tasked with developing tools and techniques to help organizations inspect software and firmware that powers network-enabled devices and protect them from attack.

Raytheon BBN Technologies, a subsidiary of Raytheon plans to develop techniques to help analysts prioritize elements of software and firmware to examine for hidden malicious functionality.

GrammaTech, a maker of software-assurance tools and cyber-security solutions, plans to develop the tools that examine the software and firmware to allow analysts to demonstrate that they do not have exploitable security vulnerabilities.

The VET program was designed to help U.S. government agencies address threats stemming from malicious code in phones, routers, computers, and other networked devices.

“The U.S. Department of Defense relies on equipment with components manufactured all over the world,” said Jack Marin, Ph.D., vice president for Cyber Security at Raytheon BBN Technologies. “Any backdoors, malicious code or other vulnerabilities hidden in those components could enable an adversary to do serious damage, including the exfiltration of sensitive data and the sabotage of critical operations. The VET program seeks to enable DoD analysts to vigorously vet software and firmware devices before they are connected to our critical networks.”

“Our scientists are developing new technology that aims to advance the state-of-the-art for analyzing machine code,” said Tim Teitelbaum, Ph.D., GrammaTech chief executive officer. “We are leveraging these advances to create a tool that could confirm the absence of broad classes of vulnerabilities.”


Managing Editor, SecurityWeek.Previous Columns by Mike Lennon:DARPA Awards Tech Firms $4.8 Million to Help Government Find BackdoorsCo-founder of Cybercrime Marketplace Carderplanet Gets 18 Years in PrisonHacker Selling Access to U.S. Supercomputers Faces 18 Months in Prison Controversial Report Examines U.S. Intelligence BudgetMocana Receives Strategic Investment from GE Ventures

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