Pentagon $1.8M Deal to Use Blockchain for Data Security

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The United States Department of Defense has signed a $1.8 million partnership with two tech firms, to study Blockchain use in securing sensitive military data.

Pentagon After ‘Highest Level Possible’ Protection

The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will work with Galoisand Guardtime Federal to implement the latter’s Keyless Signature Infrastructure.

“We want to provide an extremely high level of trust … what this work is after is the highest level possible,” Quartz quotes DARPA program manager Timothy Booher.

DARPA logoThe move comes amid increasing prevalence of major hacks on government data sources. While the current US presidential campaign has hit the headlines for this reason, further sophisticated threats to items such as military information are now the focus of a concerted effort to shore up “information integrity.”

“Whenever weapons are employed … it tends to be a place where data integrity in general is incredibly important,” Booher continued about the military aspect. “So nuclear command and control, satellite command and control, command and control in general, [information integrity] is very important.”

The plan however does not attempt to provide an “ultimate barrier” to hackers. Instead, blockchain will prove where and when a hack took place post factum. This will allow agencies to understand how systems were penetrated, why host organizations were not alerted and — equally importantly — suggest clues as to the nature of the criminal parties.

“We’re certainly thinking through a lot of applications,” Booher said.

Hacking Response In Its Infancy

The news comes as hacker group known as the Shadow Brokers this week cancelled an auction of NSA data it claims to have accessed and stolen.

hackingIn August, the group said it had passwords to cyberweapons used by the agency’s elite Equation Group, which it chose to auction for 10 thousand bitcoins. It pulled the auction citing a lack of bidders.

“The ShadowBrokers is being bored with auction so no more auction. Auction off. Auction finish. Auction done. No winners,” it wrote in a post last weekend, adding that access would now be granted to the first party sending payment.

A decisive solution to large-scale hacks of this nature has been slow in coming. Indeed, the DARPA partnership is not guaranteed to produce results, with Booher hinting that work is still at the very first stage.

“As Galois does its verification work and we understand at a deep level the security properties of this [technology] then I would start to set up a series of meetings [with the rest of the agency] to start that dialog,” he said.

What do you think about the Pentagon plan? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images via Wikimedia Commons