WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s Silicon Valley outreach team needs an internal cybersecurity tool to safely collaborate with commercial vendors outside of the department’s networks, according to a recent notice.

The Defense Innovation Unit, through the department’s Washington Headquarters Service, is seeking a multifactor authentication tool to verify its users’ identities on systems that don’t require the department’s standard ID through its Common Access Card program, according to the May 3 “sources sought” solicitation.

“DIU has a unique mission of leveraging commercial solutions to rapidly improve national security. This requires the use of cloud-based, non-DoD information systems that closely integrate with systems used within the fast-paced, innovative commercial technology sector,” the solicitation stated. “These services are not protected by the traditional, two-factor authentication measures of the Common Access Card (CAC) and require an alternative source of two (or multiple) forms of identification and authentication.”

The potential contract would be worth $6 million to $7.5 million over five years through a blanket purchasing agreement, according to the notice.

The Defense Innovation Unit needs different tools than most other Pentagon components. Because it works pursues innovations with commercial vendors, DIU relies largely on cloud-based software-as-a-service platforms to collaborate with industry rather than the legacy infrastructure that runs the rest of the department.

For example, DIU is evaluating prototypes from Google, McAfee and Zscaler that will secure access to cloud portals in an effort to improve its ability to collaborate with companies in real time.

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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