DHS Bets on Blockchain Startup for Identity of Things

Factom, which creates an identity framework on top of Blockchain, received a $200,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security.
Factom, which creates an identity framework on top of Blockchain, received a $200,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security.

In-brief: DHS’s S&T Directorate on Friday announced that it awarded $199,000 to Factom Inc., an Austin, Texas firm to fund a project titled “Blockchain Software to Prove Integrity of Captured Data From Border Devices.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) made a bet that Blockchain, the technology that supports the Bitcoin virtual currency, might prove useful as a tool for verifying the identity of endpoints on The Internet of Things, as well.

DHS’s S&T Directorate on Friday announced that it awarded $199,000 to Factom Inc., an Austin, Texas firm to fund a project titled “Blockchain Software to Prove Integrity of Captured Data From Border Devices.”

“IoT devices are embedded within our daily lives – from the vehicle we drive to devices we wear – it’s critical to safeguard these devices from adversaries, said DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Reginald Brothers. “S&T is excited to engage our nation’s innovators, helping us to develop novel solutions for the Homeland Security Enterprise.”

[Read more Security Ledger coverage of blockchain technologies.]

Factom’s technology extends the capabilities of Blockchain beyond their original use case: securing Bitcoin crypto-currency transactions. The Factom platform acts as an overlay, creating a protocol for applications that wish to use Blockchain that provides functions and features beyond currency transactions: speeding transactions, increasing throughput and allowing Blockchain to be used for non-currency transactions.

Importantly, the company has found a way to avoid the time and resource intensive “proof of work” requirement of BitCoin or the “proof of stake” requirement of alternatives like Etherium. In their place, Factom secures itself using a “ledger by consensus” based on the RAFT technology, which has been described as a kind of follow-the-leader model, according to Tiana Laurence, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer.

Laurence said the technology has huge applications for the Internet of Things: allowing organizations to attest to the authenticity of connected devices and – importantly – their constituent parts. Furthermore, the technology allows devices to develop longitudinal reputations that become more fixed the longer devices persist and the more data they generate.

Factom had received about $1.8 million in venture funding through April. The DHS OTS funding comes by way of a solicitation calling for novel ideas and technologies to improve situational awareness and security for the IoT.

Source: S&T Awards $199K to Austin Based Factom Inc. for IOT Systems Security | Homeland Security

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