A key technology used for virtual currencies is being researched by the Department of Defense to create more secure networks. The goal is to create tamper-proof military computer systems, including those systems used to control America’s nuclear weapons.
According to Quartz, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking into using blockchain technology to create more secure military networks, allow military system administrators to determine if a network or database has been tampered with. In September, DARPA awarded a $1.8 million contract to a computer security firm to begin tests.
At its most basic, a blockchain is a decentralized ledger that keeps track of data in a database or network. It then attaches a unique, persistent code, also known as a “block,” to the asset being guarded. Each time it is viewed or altered, all authorized users with access to the asset receive new blocks that update it. Each block is chained to another block, thus “blockchain.” This tech helps Bitcoin and other virtual currencies maintain integrity across worldwide networks.
Although the technology doesn’t prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing networks, it can sound the alarm when the unauthorized user attempts to tamper with anything. Any change is automatically passed to authorized users. Did any of them make the change? If yes, great, the new data is accepted by everyone. If not, the data is rejected.
In the military context, blockchain technology would be used behind traditional internet security like secured networks. If someone does manage to somehow successfully access a classified network, blockchain will be there to make sure the hacker can’t do any damage—such as rewrite code having to do with command and control of nuclear weapons. It’s like having a vicious attack dog inside your already heavily fortified home.
Hackers couldn’t let any nukes fly on their own, but they might be able to interfere with military communications in ways that wouldn’t be noticeable—until a crisis arises. Blockchain would hopefully guard against this doomsday hypothetical from becoming a reality.