US defence giant Lockheed Martin bets on blockchain

3 May 2017

Lockheed Martin jets in formation. Image: betto rodrigues/Shutterstock

Lockheed Martin, the largest defence contractor in the US, clearly likes what blockchain has to offer as its new move for added cybersecurity emerges.

What constitutes mainstream? In fashion, that would be celebrity endorsements. In music, it would be radio airplay.

In a niche area of technology that, we’re often told, is destined to revolutionise the back-end of the digital world, it would be US defence giants getting on board.

Lockheed Martin is doing just that with blockchain, eyeing the digital ledger technology as a way to keep its products and services secure.

Cybersecurity measures

In simple terms, blockchain is being used to maintain security in US defences – to a degree.

Lockheed Martin has contracted Guardtime Federal to integrate a variety of cyber-related elements into systems engineering processes and other efforts.

“These new cybersecurity approaches will enhance data integrity, speed problem discovery and mitigation, and reduce the volume of regression testing, which results in reduced schedule risk,” said Ron Bessire, aeronautics engineering and technology vice-president at Lockheed Martin.

“The faster our developers can discover issues, the faster we can deliver.”

It emerged in 2015 that China, with the help of cyber-espionage, stole 50TB of top secret data on the US military’s F-35 fighter jet.

The actual leak was believed to have occurred in 2007, with Lockheed Martin’s cybersecurity being held responsible for the breach.

How does blockchain work?

A recent piece by Prof Theo Lynn and Dr Pierangelo Rosati on looked at the basics of blockchain; what it was and where it’s going.

They surmised that blockchain is the technology that underpins bitcoin, its most famous friend.

“It is an encrypted distributed (or decentralised) ledger of transactions shared across anonymous users on the internet,” they wrote.

As such, it can be used for storing, securing, managing and validating all types of digital records and transactions, not just payments.

Last March, for example, IBM and Maersk teamed up to build a blockchain network to improve container shipping, a project that could save the entire industry billions of dollars every year.

It has been tipped to overhaul the legal industry, too, but Lockheed Martin’s move is perhaps the most telling.

The company is the first US defence contractor to incorporate blockchain into its developmental processes.

Using Guardtime Federal’s ‘black lantern’ appliances and its blockchain infrastructure, Lockheed Martin plans to achieve more efficient and secure software development, as well as supply-chain risk management.

Lockheed Martin jets in formation. Image: betto rodrigues/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic