The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) on June 15 awarded $192,380 to Austin, Texas-based start-up Factom to beta test its blockchain technology used to secure Internet of Things (IoT) data.
The deal comes as Factom enters the fourth and final phase of Homeland Security’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program, which fast-tracks technologies with the potential to solve national security challenges. Factom is just the second company to enter the last stage of the program. The funding is the fourth tranche of a grant provided to Factom by the DHS in the course of its Silicon Valley Innovation Program, which allows tech companies to apply for $800,000 in funds over a 24-month period.
Using blockchain to track the data coming off CBP devices, Factom’s software would help guarantee the integrity of that information while helping thwart attempts by bad actors to spoof, modify or otherwise disrupt the data. The Border Protection data itself isn’t stored on the blockchain. Instead, the software creates a unique “fingerprint” for the data, which can later be used to locate that information in a secure data store. It’s that fingerprint that goes on the blockchain.
“Factom’s project combines blockchain technology with critical infrastructures–such as sensors and cameras–to protect the integrity and authenticity of data collected by these devices. The capabilities developed by this project integrate with existing IoT devices and does not require the creation of blockchain-specific technology,”
DHS S&T said in a statement.
DHS already successfully piloted a prototype of the technology. The upcoming tests in Texas will run the system in environments commonly faced by border patrol officers, such as limited internet-connectivity and extreme weather. Final testing is scheduled to last three to six months, after which the agency intends for the technology to be fully ready for a public- and private-sector use.
The technology will be tested in the field with DHS’ Customs and Border Protection to determine whether the technology can operate in the conditions under which U.S. Border Patrol agents operate. This will represent a major feat for the start-up and an even greater value for blockchain technology.