Reliable CID of networked forces will only become more complicated as the number and type of digital forces explode due to the ongoing military digitization of traditional forces and the increasing deployment of autonomous vehicles and other types of devices. attributable to the Internet of Things. These small, low-cost, attritable devices and other types of digital forces require a commensurately small, low-cost, open, standards-based, interoperable, decentralizedly implemented and administered guaranteed identity solution to secure at a affordable price the scale of the Internet. networked battlespace.
The blockchain-enabled CID solution
Distributed ledger technology (aka blockchain) solves the problem of digital identity by providing a scalable, decentralized, inexpensive, and highly secure way to cryptographically link an entity’s identifier to its private and public key pair while distributing it widely and safely. In a blockchain-based digital identity solution, the immutable hash of chained transaction blocks stored on the ledger immutably binds a new type of globally unique and immutable digital identifier (W3C Decentralized Identifiers or DIDs) to its public key. The blockchain consensus mechanism ensures that each distributed ledger in the blockchain network independently writes the linked ID/public keys to its ledger. Therefore, an entity’s DID and cryptographically bound public key are automatically and immutably distributed across all physically disparate and independently operated nodes of a distributed blockchain network. To verify an identity’s digital signature, a relying party searches for the subject’s DID on a local blockchain ledger node and retrieves the immutably bound public key.
After recognition of this seminal use case for blockchain technology, several open source organizations emerged to develop a comprehensive Trust over IP architecture framework along with open standards and supporting implementations. The resulting highly secure digital identity solution has become known as self-sovereign identity, decentralized identity, and decentralized public key infrastructure.
When deployed, these standards and technologies take the form of small-footprint software agents and secure digital wallets installed on each participating networked device. Software agents and secure digital wallets use standardized protocols and cryptography to automate assured CID. Agents of any communicating digital force automatically establish a secure channel (exchange of public keys in pairs) and then use the encrypted channel to exchange cryptographically verifiable statements about their identities, capabilities, and data via small, lightweight, machine-readable files and defined by schema. , digitally signed, verifiable credentials. Verifiable credentials are issued to digital forces (representing people, organizations, and entities) by recognized and authoritative trusted issuers registered on a blockchain ledger. Verifiers of a verifiable ID look up the issuer’s DID on the blockchain, retrieve the associated public key, and confirm the issuer’s digital signature on the verifiable ID.
CID is performed by agents when they validate the signatures of exchanged verifiable credentials and use the attributes to perform mutual identification, authentication, and authorization. Once the trust CID is complete, devices use the established trust relationship to perform various use cases.
For example, a sensor device transmits collected images to its controller over a complex multi-hop route. Because the sensor and its controller hold the other’s relationship-specific identifier tied to their public key, the sensor data and controller acknowledgments are all digitally signed and end-to-end encrypted between devices. , independent of any transport layer encryption. The receiving controller has high assurance that the image data is from the trusted sensor and has not been tampered with. The sensor has great assurance that the trusted controller has actually received it.
The sensor could also carry in its wallet non-identifying types of verifiable credentials asserting various claims about the sensor itself, the resolution certified by the manufacturer of a camera, for example. That way the controller could make better decisions on how best to use that sensor. For example, if the camera only took wide-angle images, the controller would not try to assign it a collection task that required zoom capability.
The value for you
Blockchain-backed decentralized identity open standards and technologies can provide military decision-makers with sufficiently reliable CID of digital forces to trust collapsing information silos pipes, automating high-value decision-making and separating command from control to the extent necessary to significantly shorten the chain of destruction.
Tim Olson is a leading client engineering solutions architect for IBM. You can contact him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tim-olson-1a03492/.
The opinions expressed in this article should not be construed as official or reflecting the views of AFCEA International.
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