Trustworthy Cyberspace: Strategic Plan for the Federal Cybersecurity Research and Development Program

Dec 2011

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A primary objective of the Federal cybersecurity R&D strategic plan is to express a vision for the research necessary to develop game-changing technologies that can neutralize the attacks on the cyber systems of today and lay the foundation for a scientific approach that better prepares the field to meet the chal- lenges of securing the cyber systems of tomorrow. As a strategic plan, this document provides guidance for Federal agencies, policymakers, researchers, budget analysts, and the public in determining how to direct limited resources into activities that have the greatest potential to generate the greatest impact.

Currently, a chasm exists between the research community, which focuses on exercising research components in demonstration environments, and the operations community, which acquires system prototypes containing research components and implements them in operational environments. Bridging that chasm, commonly referred to as the "valley of death," requires cooperative efforts and investments by both the R&D and operations communities, and may involve significant risk-taking on the part of the private sector as it shepherds research results through the commercialization process.

This is a typical government document which focuses on broad, non-controversial themes. For example, what organization wouldn't want to (1) induce change, (2) base their work on sound scientific principals, (3) maximize the impact of research, and (4) transition research results into practice as soon as possible? Perhaps, by explicitly pointing these out, however, the White House is implicitly stating to the community, "You suck at these things. Get your act together."

Still, the document is relatively short and to the point. Where things will get interesting is when dollars start flowing. The goals are great. The document used the phrase "game-changing" or "change the game" 13 times. It is the flow of money (funding of research, allocations for operations, and buying of products) that will actually affect change. Time will tell.

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