Some of the industry's leading tech and security companies are joining forces to tackle "grand challenges" related to cyber security. As Reuters reports, AMD, Honeywell, Intel, Lockheed Martin, and RSA/EMC will form a private non-profit consortium known as the Cyber Security Research Alliance to coordinate research and work with the government to better protect the nation's systems amid the rise in hacking threats.

We've seen a number of security breaches reported over the past few years. Some directly affect customers' data while others are part of a political agenda from foreign nations. Just last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta highlighted the growing threat of cyber attacks, noting that hackers were already going after banks and developing the ability to strike U.S. power grids and government systems.

The CSRA's research will focus primarily in three areas: data and information sharing, control system security and threat mitigation. Working in active collaboration with member companies and partners in government and academia, the consortium hopes to develop "break-through technologies" to improve cybersecurity, and said the first fruits of their labor could arrive within a year to 18 months.

The group also said it is in discussions with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to arrange of a joint cyber-security research symposium in early 2013, with the goal of connecting security researchers and stakeholders from across the private, academic and government sectors.

Each of the five founding companies reportedly paid $60,000 in membership dues, and 15 to 20 other companies had expressed interest in joining as affiliate members for $15,000 a year.