WASHINGTON — The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking to industry for “revolutionary security technologies” that can protect the military’s growing number of Internet of Things devices.

The Cryptography for Hyper-scale Architectures in a Robust Internet Of Things (CHARIOT) program was established to “develop revolutionary approaches for fast, efficient, and quantum-resistant cryptographic operations for Internet of Things (IoT) devices,” according to a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) opportunity released by the agency Aug. 11.

Due partly to the low cost of the equipment, the military has been able to adopt “unprecedented numbers” of IoT-enabled devices, explains DARPA. However, not all of those devices have the cryptographic security they ought to, and the issue will only be exacerbated as quantum computing and 5G wireless networks come online.

The problem, DARPA says, is that the amount of power cryptography consumes reduces the lifespan of devices in the field, which ultimately disincentives manufactures from including security in their products. With some IoT devices expected to last over a decade in the field, the military needs cryptographic solutions that are low on power consumption.

“CHARIOT’s objective is solutions that are fast, efficient, and quantum-resistant on even the cheapest devices,” the solicitation reads.

The CHARIOT program will prototype “low-cost, low-footprint, post-quantum cryptographic techniques” that use up less energy. The solicitation notes that DARPA is particularly interested in vehicle-embedded and wearable use cases with a zero-trust network architecture, such as “uses within a larger scenario of wearable-equipped passengers entering, traveling in and departing from a vehicle such as a troop carrier or school bus.”

Proposals are due Sept. 29.

Andrew Eversden covers all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. He previously reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.

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