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Activity title

Blockchain Technology for Coalition Operations

Activity Reference

IST-ET-110 (IWA)

Panel

Information Systems Technology

Security Classification

PUBLIC RELEASE

Status

Planning

Activity type

ET

Start date

2019

End date

2020

Keywords

Blockchain, Coalition Operations, Cyber security, Data Integrity, Data Management, Information Security, Resilient Information Exchange

Background

Blockchain is an emerging technology that is projected as it can offer efficient opportunities for some tasks specifically involving immutable transactions. Basically, blockchain is a shared and distributed database, which is a linked list of blocks that store transactions and digital records. What makes blockchain as a prominent technology lays down on its design features. First, it is distributed and shared by many participants. In other words, it is not controlled by a centralized authority. Being de-centralized provides no single point of failure for the network. Moreover, a blockchain network is trustless. It assumes compromises of the network by both insiders and the outsiders of the network. Second, the chain of records is immutable (i.e. append only) and tamper-resistant. As reported in the literature, the blockchain is thought to be transparently secure by relying on cryptographic data structures rather than a shared secret among the participants. This characteristic of blockchain technology provides data integrity. Lastly, every participant must agree on the records in blockchain. This introduces a common agreement on data among the participants. Based on those major characteristics, the blockchain technology has the potential to satisfy the need of reliably exchanging information over an untrusted network, where there may exist potential adversaries who try to disrupt and compromise this exchange. Furthermore, the immutable and tamper-resistant nature of the blockchain may guarantee an untampered, undistorted, and unchanged set of data records such as system and transaction logs or operational messages.

Objectives

The integrity of information gains more importance in case of a coalition force, where each nation has various technologies with different types and specifications of command and control systems. In this respect, the objectives of this proposal can be summarized as follows: • Researching the pros and cons of blockchain technology from the perspective of military operations specifically from the viewpoint of coalition operations. • Identifying the potential use-case scenarios of blockchain technology in coalition operations within NATO. • Researching how to achieve data integrity of information exchanged among national units in a coalition force, where the underlying communication medium can be unsecure in a highly contested environment. • Achieving an expertise in blockchain technology between NATO participants. • Identifying the potential blockchain-based applications to partner with industry to develop these applications. • Constructing a roadmap to employ future blockchain-based technologies and to integrate them with NATO systems and procedures.

Topics

Non-exhaustive list of topics to be covered: • Blockchain technology in military operations such as naval operations • Blockchain technology in Command and Control (C2) • Cyber defense and cyber security (using blockchain technology in cyber security) • Blockchain technology in autonomous systems (e.g. unmanned vehicles) • Information security (cryptology, data integrity) • Database systems in NATO • Supply chain management • Resilient communication networks

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