Sunday, May 1, 2016

Encryption, the Blockchain and the U.S. Department of Defense

  • Last week, the U.S. Department of Defense posted a request for proposal for a Secure Messaging System which said: “There is a critical [Department of Defense] need to develop a secure messaging and transaction platform accessible via web browser or standalone native application … Legacy messaging and backoffice infrastructures, traditionally based on centralized, unencrypted hub-and spoke database architecture, are expensive, inefficient, brittle and subject to cyber attack. The overhead costs of maintaining such architectures is rising rapidly.”
  • The messaging platform would act as the transport for a cyptographically sound record of all transactions whether they be [military procurement requests], contracts, troop movements or intelligence … The benefits are broad and could even be applied to domains such as space.”
  • “With this messaging platform the business logic of the DoD ecosystem would be mapped onto a network of known entities using distributed ledgers. By doing this significant portions of the DoD backoffice infrastructure can be decentralized, ‘smart documents and contracts’ can be instantly and securely sent and received thereby reducing exposure to hackers and reducing needless delays in DoD backoffice correspondance.”
  • Regarding encryption -  While some government policymakers are concerned about encryption technology, which is increasingly used by AppleGoogleWhatsAppTelegram and others, this DoD request for proposal validates the view that encrypted data use will continue to expand.
  • Regarding the blockchain – The blockchain is a type of database popularized by Bitcoin.  The DoD’s focus on a “customized blockchain implementation” will likely address latency and scalability issues that have plagued some implementations.
  • Regarding commercial use – Given the DoD ‘s broad communciation reach in the public and private sectors, a successful development could reshape the markets for encrypted messaging and “smart contract” solutions

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