PNNL wins Federal Laboratory Consortium award for bringing government technology to the marketplace

Software that helps cybersecurity analysts prevent hacks is one of the latest innovations Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has successfully commercialized with the help of business partners.

Due to the unique paths the development teams took to get the technology from Department of Energy lab to the private sector, the Federal Laboratory Consortium has honored the two teams made up of lab and commercial business staff with 2016 Excellence in Technology Transfer awards. The consortium is a nationwide network that encourages federal laboratories to transfer laboratory-developed, taxpayer-funded technologies to commercial markets.

PNNL has earned a total of 83 such awards since the program began in 1984 — far more than any other national laboratory. The 2016 awards will be presented April 27 in Chicago, Illinois, at the consortium's annual meeting.

Software "CHAMPIONs" cybersecurity experts

If you're a hacker aimed at stealing credit card information from a retail company and you want to evade detection, you hide in massive amounts of network data. Analysts have the know-how to sort through this digital mess to find hackers, but they often identify attacks too late. Analytical software developed at PNNL and licensed to Champion Technology Company Inc. can help find these and other threats in near-real-time. That's because the software, called Columnar Hierarchical Auto-associative Memory Processing in Ontological Networks — or CHAMPION, has the knowledge to sort through data like an analyst, but on a much greater scale.

Scientists designed CHAMPION to use human analysts and historical data to learn about the company it's protecting. Starting with advanced Semantic Web technologies, which translate human knowledge into something that's machine readable, CHAMPION then uses descriptive logic to reason whether activity is suspicious. For example, if a retail company's HVAC data back-up account tries to access the point-of-sale system, CHAMPION could use historical data to conclude that this is unusual. Once identified, the software alerts an analyst of the suspicious activity — in time to potentially thwart an attack.

Sorting through data can consume up to 40 percent of an analyst's day. By streamlining these tasks, CHAMPION can save money and free analysts to focus on higher-priority tasks. And cybersecurity isn't CHAMPION's only trick. Change its diet of knowledge and the software can learn to analyze financial services or health care data.

This technology transfer involved a unique collaboration between PNNL and Early X, a non-profit education foundation spun out from Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business and Management. In this effort, a group of MBA students and diverse business executives identified 70 market opportunities for CHAMPION. This groundwork led to the start of Champion Technology Company Inc.

The team receiving an FLC Award for CHAMPION includes: PNNL's Shawn Hampton and Kannan Krishnaswami; Champion Technology Company's Ryan Hohimer; and former PNNL staff John McEntire, Frank Greitzer and Matthew Love.

For more information on technology transfer programs at PNNL, visit their .