The Pentagon just unveiled a new platform it calls Pathfinder.
No, it’s not a new robotic weapons system, or a new high-tech tank, or even an innovative mapping system.
Instead, this is a program that addresses the Pentagon as a huge bureaucracy, instead of as a fighting force.
Pathfinder is a new program to migrate tons of data, some of it quite sensitive, to the cloud. And the U.S. Department of Defense is contracting with cloud leader Amazon Web Services in a deal that could eventually be worth billions to make it happen.
As you might imagine in this era of cyberattacks, not everyone in Washington is on board with the massive data migration.
They worry that the Pentagon is exposing itself to hackers who may come from China, North Korea, or Russia. After all, black-hat teams tied to those three nations attempt to penetrate our military networks on an almost hourly basis.
Here’s the thing. There’s a relatively new approach out there that offers far more security, not to mention a permanent record of every single transaction involving a military budget totaling more than $750 billion.
It’s a system I call the Milblock.
In a moment, I’ll explain just what I’m talking about.
Nothing Beats Blockchain
Don’t get me wrong. As a longtime champion of investing in cloud-centric firms, I’m in no way turning my back on Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN).
I believe that its security is probably as good, and maybe even better, than the Pentagon’s.
But when it comes to data encryption, nothing beats what blockchain technology can offer.
A “block” is a record of new transactions (“transaction” could mean the location of cryptocurrency, or medical data, or even voting records). Once each block is completed, it’s added to the chain, creating a chain of blocks: a blockchain.
Blockchain tech serves as a global ledger of transactions. Information held on a blockchain exists as a shared – and continually updated – database. Data on a blockchain isn’t stored in any single location, meaning the records it keeps are truly public and easily verifiable.
That also means there is no centralized version of this information, so hackers can’t corrupt it.
The DoD tracks these new kinds of technologies at its own sort of Silicon Valley hub, known as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Although DARPA doesn’t like to talk about what it’s working on, the agency didn’t mince words about its goals for blockchain. Last summer, the agency said, “The Pentagon has been moving discreetly but aggressively in recent months to develop military-related apps exploiting the capabilities of blockchain.”
DARPA is also said to be testing blockchain as a form of secure messaging technology. The goal of this project is to build a secure platform to send encoded messages to operatives in combat situations.
And this emerging Milblock won’t be just limited to defense. It also could have wide-ranging application throughout the federal government.
The Biggest Agency You’ve Never Heard Of
Take case of the sprawling General Services Administration (GSA). The GSA is little-known but crucial federal agency.
It supplies products and communications for all U.S. government offices, provides transportation and office space to federal employees, and develops government-wide cost controls and other management tasks.
The GSA employs about 12,000 federal workers, has a budget of about $26.3 billion, and oversees $66 billion in procurement each year. And it does so all while managing $500 billion in federal property.