Blockchain technology has the potential to help the defense industry address some difficult problems with cybersecurity. One of these areas is the large, complex, and global Department of Defense’s (DoD) supply chain.
So how could blockchain improve security of supply chains?
The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies held an event in early December to discuss the application of blockchains to DoD microelectronics supply chain.
To set the scene: blockchain technology first appeared in 2009, and, in theory, could reduce cybersecurity risks intrinsic to supply chains. This is because it creates immutable and auditable history of transactions tied to a verifiable identify. Hence, why blockchain has become synonymous with security and the DoD interest is growing. Additionally, we are seeing more comprehensive studies of blockchain, particularly with regard to cybersecurity.
Currently, there is no single source of “integrity or transparency” for global supply chain data among DoD organizations and their vendors. As a result, gaps in cybersecurity expose the supply chain to pervasive and persistent vulnerabilities. Gaining access to any facet of this data manufacturing process could create a domino effect and result in financial losses and even impact national security.
One major takeaway from the Potomac Institute event—our current process is fragmented, leading to significant amount of error in tracking and routing which impacts the optimization of the supply chain process.
Additional ongoing issues include lack of uniform security implementation, inconsistent implementation of adequate security, reliance on self-verifications, lack of trust between vendors, carriers, shippers, and other partners - all leaving the supply chain vulnerable.
Regardless of the challenges, blockchain technology is being touted as a tool that can address these problems by providing a single source of truth - a secure, immutable, and transparent record of DoD supply chain transaction.
While blockchain has potential, and despite the theoretical compatibility, the government has been slow to adopt solutions, evidenced by the back and forth between event attendees. There are significant hurdles to overcome before supply chains fully embrace blockchain.
The technology is still new, but a push is being made to help blockchain achieve its promise for security. Notably, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the DoD are experimenting with blockchain technology to advance infrastructure security and enhance national security.