CAMBRIDGE, MA. - Raytheon BBN Technologies and GrammaTech, Inc. are collaborating on a $4.8 million contract award under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's VET program. Raytheon BBN Technologies is a wholly owned subsidiary of Raytheon Company.
The VET (Vetting Commodity IT Software and Firmware) program seeks to help U.S. government agencies address the threat of malicious code and hidden "backdoor" access in commodity IT devices. Mobile phones, network routers, computer workstations and other networked devices can be secretly modified to function in unintended ways or spy on users. The funding was awarded Sept. 26, 2013.
Under the program, GrammaTech and Raytheon BBN intend to develop tools and techniques to enable organizations to inspect the software and firmware that exist inside such network-enabled devices and protect them from attack. Raytheon BBN Technologies plans to develop techniques that enable analysts to prioritize elements of software and firmware to examine for hidden malicious functionality.
GrammaTech plans to develop the tools that actually examine the software and firmware to allow analysts to demonstrate that they do not have exploitable security vulnerabilities.
"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."
"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."