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DHS awards SBIR Phase II contract to Utah company for identity management initiative

WASHINGTON The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has awarded Salt Lake City-based startup Evernym a $749,000 Small Business Innovation Program (SBIR) award to develop an easy-to-use, decentralized mechanism for managing public and private keys needed for the secure and scalable deployment of blockchain technologies.

Under the SBIR Phase II contract, Evernym will design and implement a decentralized key management system (DKMS) for blockchain technologies based on National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 800-130, titled “A Framework for Designing Key Management Systems.” The research project is being managed by the S&T Cyber Security Division’s (CSD) Identity Management project.

“A better, more secure method is needed to safeguard the identity and privacy of web-users,” said Acting DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology William N. Bryan. “Research in blockchain holds significant potential to provide a solution that will make it considerably more difficult to hack an online user’s identity.”

Through a project titled “Applicability of Blockchain Technology to Privacy Respecting Identity Management,” Evernym is developing a DKMS—a cryptographic key management approach used with blockchain and other distributed-ledger technologies—to boost online authentication and verification. Within a DKMS, the initial “root-of-trust” for all participants is a distributed ledger that supports a decentralized identifier—a new form of root identity record.

“Managing public and private cryptographic keys in existing public key infrastructure as well as permissioned and permission-less blockchains continues to be a difficult challenge,” said S&T Identity Management Program Manager Anil John. “Through this project, Evernym will push the limits of the emerging decentralized key management system technology to deliver a high level of comfort to the public and American businesses as they integrate blockchain technologies into their technology portfolio.”

Initiated in 2004, the DHS S&T SBIR program is a competitive contract awards program that increases the participation of innovative and creative U.S. small businesses in federal research-and-development (R&D) initiatives and facilitates private-sector commercialization of SBIR-funded solutions. A SBIR Phase II awardee continues its R&D from a completed Phase I project that successfully affirms the scientific and technical merit and feasibility of a proposed effort. S&T’s CSD leverages the SBIR program to fund small business development of new and enhanced cybersecurity solutions. For more about the S&T SBIR program, visit /science-and-technology/sbir.

CSD is part of S&T’s Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency. Its mission is to enhance the security and resilience of the nation’s critical information infrastructure and the Internet by developing and delivering new technologies, tools and techniques to defend against cyberattacks. The division conducts and supports technology transitions and leads and coordinates R&D among the R&D community, which includes DHS customers, government agencies, the private sector and international partners. For more information about CSD, visit https://www.dhs.gov/cyber-research.

 

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