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April 22, 2019

United States Department of Defense Researching Potential Blockchain Solutions For Cybersecurity

In a report released July 2019, titled ‘DoD Digital Modernization Strategy: DoD Information Resource Management Strategic Plan’, the Department of Defense, states it is experimenting with blockchain technology to create unhackable code and as a means of secure communication between personnel.

In its report the DoD lists priorities for digital modernization to maintain a competitive advantage to include cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, cloud, command, control and communications. The technologies it will explore ‘to provide increased effectiveness, efficiency, and security include AI, Big Data Analytics, Evergreen IT approaches, DevSecOps, Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, Serverless or Event-Driven Computing, Software Defined Networking (SDN), Block Chain, Cryptographic Modernization, Quantum Computing, Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), Passive Optical Network (PON), and Zero Trust Security.’

Blockchain Technology and the Department of Defense

Blockchains are a new information technology that inverts the cybersecurity paradigm. First, blockchain networks are trustless: they assume compromise of the network by both insiders and outsiders. Second, blockchains are transparently secure: they do not rely on failure-prone secrets, but rather on a cryptographic data structure that makes tampering both exceptionally difficult and immediately obvious. Finally, blockchain networks are fault tolerant: they align the efforts of honest nodes to reject those that are dishonest. As a result, blockchain networks not only reduce the probability of compromise, but also impose significantly greater costs on an adversary to achieve it.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is starting to experiment with blockchain to create a more efficient, robust, and secure platform using a blockchain protocol that will allow personnel from anywhere to transmit secure messages or process transactions that can be traced through numerous channels of a decentralized ledger. The application will be used in different ways, including facilitating communication between units and headquarters, and transmitting information between intelligence officers and the Pentagon. DARPA also has been trying to develop an unhackable code — which blockchain could facilitate — because the technology offers intelligence on hackers who try to break into secure databases. — DoD Digital Modernization Strategy: DoD Information Resource Management Strategic Plan

Blockchain is a Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), that is decentralized; information is available to all nodes (computers) on a specific blockchain and everyone in the network has a copy of the whole database. All transactions are encrypted and stored in blocks that are time-stamped and linked together chronologically. If a change is made you can’t rewrite a block. The change is stored in a new block and time-stamped. This process creates trust while also maintaining a high level of data integrity.

The sending and storing of important data in a decentralized database like Blockchain solve a critical issue of a centralized database that has a single, vulnerable point of access that makes it easier to hack. Data stored on a blockchain has no single point of attack for hackers. Blockchain’s transparent record-keeping system gives each node information on any potential hack attempts in real-time. Blockchain takes information, encrypts it, breaks it up into small chunks and distributes it across the network If the info is hacked the hacker only gets a piece of the encrypted data.

‘This DoD Strategy document is all encompassing from a Warfighting and Security perspective for the world’s only superpower and it reveals the necessity of a secure technology like Blockchain to contain the ambitious DoD plans to implement a really robust utilization of Artificial Intelligence. The DoD envisions AI as “a force multiplier and agent of transformation across all DoD functions — we will harness it smartly and at pace”. The DoD plans to enable AI across their information enterprise and invoking it with Event Driven Computing to “enable increased lethality for the joint Warfighter”. This approach could enable sinister forces to possibly manipulate DoD’s AI with potentially catastrophic consequences if not for the data lock-down nature of Blockchain’s widely distributed ledger and multifaceted public and private key data structure, eliminating single points of attack and control. We should all be grateful that Blockchain technology is the Handmaiden for such powerful Artificial Intelligence capability’. — Randy McGuire, CEO Liquid Ledgers

Blockchain could ultimately be an integral piece for information management across many industries including cloud computing.

Brad Rosenberg, Co-founder & Chief Product Officer at FutureVault, a white label, cloud document management platform provider for a variety of industries including finance, legal, insurance, government, etc — is looking at implementing a standalone FutureVault service that stores, validates and encrypts important documents utilizing blockchain. Blockchain transaction IDs would prove that documents were issued by the originator and are unmodified. Examples: Diplomas, tax returns, marriage certificates, wills, deeds, mortgages.

“Many companies are driven to be part of the blockchain technology trend and looking for ways to duct tape it onto their products. However, The FutureVault platform is a natural fit for a blockchain powered document and transaction authentication service. Having the ecosystem already in place; document storage, document collaboration, security and relations with institutions with the need to authenticate documents. Acting as the platform for an authenticated document escrow service is a natural fit.”  — Brad Rosenberg, Co-founder & Chief Product Officer, FutureVault

People often confuse bitcoin with blockchain and vice versa but as blockchain adoption takes off in a short time perhaps the technological buzzwords wont be so entangled. Soon the masses will be able to differentiate blockchain technology from Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that helped launch blockchain to fame.

Audrey Nesbitt