DARPA Blockchain Contract

DARPA has awarded a $1.8 million joint-contract to two companies to formally verify an integrity monitoring system based on blockchain technology.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has jointly awarded a $1.8 million contract between Galois and Guardtime Federal to verify the state of correctness of Guardtime’s Keyless Signature Infrastructure (KSI), an integrity monitoring system. In other words, a verifier verifying a system built for verification and monitoring.

The announcement reveals that the contract will fund a “significant effort” that will seek to advance all blockchain-based monitoring systems and the tools required for formal verification.

Galois is a Portland, OR- based technology firm that specializes in ‘formal verification’, a means to assessing a system to provide mathematical assurances that it only works as it is intended to.

KSI on a Public Blockchain

The Keyless Signature Infrastructure is a blockchain-based security technology developed by Guardtime, a cybersecurity solutions collective of computer scientists, network architects, software developers and security specialists.

KSI’s blockchain technology uses a public ledger much like the bitcoin blockchain, even predating the most robust and well-known blockchain of them all. Data transactions are recorded on the KSI ledger, removing the need for trusted insiders for verification or authentication. Transparency and accountability is maintained, without the need for a key.

For DARPA, KSI’s functionality applies to quickly detect advanced persistent threats (APTs), that can remain hidden in an embedded state within networks. Attackers frequently use APTs for their ability to undermine the security of a network and are commonly found to play a part in sophisticated network breaches.

The KSI monitoring system works by continuously verifying the data integrity, processers and the overall system. Fundamentally, this leads ramping up the sensitivity triggers in a system’s underlying cybersecurity infrastructure. In effect, attacks can be mitigated in real-time while preserving the integrity of a system.

Guardtime Federal president David Hamilton welcomed the formal verification of KSI’s blockchain tech while adding:

By subjecting our cyber defense infrastructure to this most sophisticated methodology we will test both typical and exotic boundary conditions enabling further refinements of our defenses for protecting the most precious national security secrets and configurations of operational systems.

While DARPA’s intentions for KSI aren’t disclosed, the federal agency’s endeavor to research the innovation saw a recent proposal to develop a decentralized messaging platform based on the blockchain tech.

Meanwhile, Guardtime’s KSI will see deployment in the UK to secure the likes of nuclear plants.