Thu, Dec 07, 2017 - Page 9 News List

Blockchain goes from
suspect to potential solution

While investigators have until now seen blockchain and bitcoin as criminal havens, security agencies are starting to eye the former’s military and security potential

By Jeremy Wagstaff and Byron Kaye  /  Reuters

Marcus Ralphs, a former soldier and now chief executive officer of ByzGen Ltd, which makes blockchains for the security sector, said he is working on projects with the UK defense ministry using blockchain to track the status and level of individuals’ security clearance.

Other work includes helping the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) improve the way work permits are issued and records stored.

These are early days.

Kemp says there is no guarantee his project will be deployed more widely, and some who have worked with AUSTRAC are skeptical, saying such projects have more to do with agencies turning to the private sector because they are running low on resources and ideas.

“The government is just looking to pass the buck on to private industry,” said Simon Smith, a cyber private investigator who has worked on cases involving AUSTRAC.

Many police forces and armies are not ready for the technological and mental leap necessary.

The Police Foundation, a UK think tank focusing on policing and crime, is pushing UK police to explore blockchain technology, but its director, Rick Muir, said: “We are still at the stage of ‘what is blockchain?’”

Major Neil Barnas, a US Air Force officer who last year wrote a thesis on the potential of blockchain in defense, said US military and security agencies are slowly waking up.

The problem is that military minds are more inclined toward centralized systems than the decentralized ones that blockchain’s distributed ledger embraces, he said.

That said, blockchain’s association with the criminal underworld has not dented its appeal to those who see its potential, Ralphs said.

“The negative narrative around it has not at all watered down or diluted the interest of the people we’ve been engaging with,” he said.

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