Tech 11 April 2019

Derek Tonin

US Department of Energy eyes blockchain to protect supply chain

Blockchain technology offers quite a few benefits for industries looking to use it. For the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), they are counting on its ability to secure data, and have announced a project to do just that has entered its second phase.

The DOE’s National Technology Laboratory (NETL), in partnership with a Colorado-based security firm called Taekion, plan to use the technology to secure energy supply chains against cybercriminals. They’re hoping to avoid attacks, by terrorists or state actors, against the country’s energy supply, much like what happened to Ukraine in 2016.

The press release noted:

“Accurate information on the status of power plant operations is critical for electric grid security. For example, one method of cyberattack involves compromising a system so that it appears operational when it has actually been shut down by the hackers, leaving millions without power […] The applications being developed in the NETL-managed project have the potential to thwart such attacks by preventing hackers from altering the plant’s operational information.”

The project will run $1 million, and will seek to decentralize data on the status an operation of the energy supply chain. In theory, if hackers do affect the power grid in some way, they will be unable to cover their tracks, as up-to-date information will be continuously saved to the immutable blockchain at many locations, while also providing the government real time data on the status of their grid.

This isn’t the only blockchain initiative the DOE has ventured into. In January, they announced a $4.8 million investment into university research and development projects of blockchain. That initiative was designed to both train future scientists and engineers, as well as investigate more sustainable uses for fossil fuels, and also reduce the cost and risk of their use.

Should this new supply chain project prove successful, it will safeguard the U.S. against an attack that could potentially bring down the electric backbone that so much of the economy depends on. Considering we know that certain bad actors have already proven quite capable at that type of attack, a $1 million investment could soon become much bigger if early results look successful.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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