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US Military Seeks Its Own Secure Blockchain Messaging System

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:48 PM
Joseph Bradley
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:48 PM

Secured messaging has become crucially important. Blackberry  used to be known for it, but the user needed their hardware. WhatsApp  is more functional, but still requires a centralized, fallible infrastructure. Enter blockchain and DARPA…

If you were to look up Topic # SB162-004 SBIR/ STTR Web Portal (I do not know why you ever would…) you find an interesting description of a secure messaging platform that DARPA hopes to create.

DARPA’s objective  is to:

Create a secure messaging and transaction platform that separates the message creation, from the transfer (transport) and reception of the message using a decentralized messaging backbone to allow anyone anywhere the ability to send a secure message or conduct other transactions across multiple channels traceable in a decentralized ledger.

The Need

Just as technology has followed the well known familiar centralization to decentralization cycle   so too have the conflicts we fight around the world. Gone are the days of one fortified line that must be broken by pure force. Now there are small bursts of conflict that traverse the world. Communication is perhaps more key than ever. Antiquated, centralized systems are easy targets for hackers and are typically rigid in their configuration.

So how does a military track and communicate ground troops, coordinate drone strikes, exchange intelligence, relay strategy that may change in a moment’s notice, and accomplish all this with powerful cryptography? DARPA thinks the answer can be found in blockchain.

DARPA’s Proposed Program

DARPA  is no stranger to bringing far out ideas into the scope of usability for the military. This is quite different. The tech exists and the concept is linear. For this project DARPA proposes that,

The messaging platform will transfer messages via a secure decentralized protocol that will be secured across multiple channels, including but not limited to: 1) Transport protocol, 2) Encryption of messages via various application protocols, 3) Customized blockchain implementation of message deconstruction and reconstruction, and decentralized ledger implementation.

The system has a wide range of potential uses from conveying troop movements in denied communications environments to allowing regulators to utilize the channels to ensure that DoD purchases adhere to policy. In summation DARPA says that “the DoD requires a secure messaging system that can provide repudiation or deniability, perfect forward and backward secrecy, time to live/self delete for messages, one time eyes only messages, a decentralized infrastructure to be resilient to cyber-attacks, and ease of use for individuals in less than ideal situations.”

The suggestion of such a system would mean that the architecture would need to be a secure decentralized protocol with certain nodes that are given access. Nonetheless, blockchain seems to satiate these needs relatively effortlessly. That’s the thing with amazing technology…once it gets into the wild it can and does evolve into some pretty wild iterations.

Featured image from Shutterstock.