The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding efforts to utilize blockchain technology in order to secure highly sensitive data. Currently, data breaches can go months without being detected, giving intruders time to explore networks and find the most valuable assets before covering their tracks. Agencies often do not know they have been hacked until their private data shows up online, and then are left to guess at the identity of the hostile actors.
As it is difficult to keep out every single hostile player, data integrity, the ability to track if information has been viewed or modified, may be more important. The blockchain, operates as a decentralized ledger that timestamps whenever a change occurs, offers a way for these agencies to quickly know who has infiltrated the system and what they did within it. As a result of its distributed nature and instantaneous recording, the blockchain is vastly more resistant to tampering than centralized systems. This could alert military and intelligence authorities if a hacker is surveying a particular military system or has made modifications, without allowing the actor to cover their tracks.
To test the feasibility of the blockchain for military applications, DARPA agreed on a $1.8 million contract to tech companies Galois and Guardtime Federal, in order to formally verify Guardtime Federal’s Keyless Signature Infrastructure solution. The formal verification process involves using mathematical proofs to ensure that the code operates only as intended, resulting in an ultra-secure, almost unhackable code. This blockchain-based integrity monitoring system proves the time, identity, integrity, and provenance of data, while ensuring that intruders are unable to cover their tracks. Possible applications for the technology include control and command systems for nuclear weapons and surveillance satellites, for which data integrity is incredibly important. As Timothy Booher, DARPA program manager stated,
“We want to provide an extremely high level of trust … what this work is after is the highest level possible. If someone is driving a combat vehicle, flying an aircraft, commanding a satellite, we want to make sure their focus is 100% on that mission.”
In this age of massive hacks on corporations and political organizations, information security is more important than ever. Investment in security technology is reflecting this trend. According to research firm Gartner, global spending on information security is projected to grow from $77 billion in 2015 to $108 billion in 2019. Blockchain technology could offer a secure solution to identify breaches and combat tampering for military and civilian systems.
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