There are never adequate eyes out there thoroughly searching for threats that Internet users are likely to encounter. For instance, the recently exposed Specter and Meltdown processor weaknesses demonstrated how threats could survive for years undetected.
There are never adequate eyes out there thoroughly searching for threats that Internet users are likely to encounter. For instance, the recently exposed Specter and Meltdown processor weaknesses demonstrated how threats could survive for years undetected. While such huge engineering mistakes gain global attention, individual users are exposed to smaller attacks, such as phishing emails and attachments carrying malicious links. However, Swarm Technologies believes that security professionals do not put sufficient efforts when it comes to exploring these problems.
Swarm Technologies recently became an independent business after spinning out from Narf Industries, a renowned company that oversaw a blockchain identity management project on behalf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Swarm considers a crypto token as an ideal strategy for closing gaps in software swiftly and effectively. As such, the firm announced on Sunday evening that it would be operating an initial coin offering (ICO) with the aim of creating a safer internet by bringing together security researchers from different parts of the world.
The ICO starts on February 6, with proceeds generated directed towards establishing a platform known as PolySwarm. The PolySwarm will serve as a hub where security researchers will collaborate to come up with micro-engines, sophisticated software created to scan files, documents, and sites that might hide threats.
The utilization of limited data set to orient distributed communities toward specific goals has become a popular strategy among blockchains. According to Bassi, Ethereum prediction market, Augur, is driven by the same strategy since it leverages the wisdom of the crowd to foretell outcomes. On the other hand, PolySwarm harnesses the power of distributed communities to build a more secure Internet. However, to gain an extensive understanding of the Swarm’s mission, it is essential to know the process of threat detection that involves companies carrying out scans to look for threats when web users perform any action including clicking on a URL to access an email.
To conduct more scans more effectively, Swarm is planning to recruit antivirus software firms and competent IT teams that will identify new documents, software, and new files that require scanning, and then send those scans to a distributed community of researchers. The researchers will develop machines to perform particular scans, and every time they do, Swarm Technologies will send the token to the machines as a reward. According to Bassi, this use case will dramatically change the role of cryptocurrency from being used to pay for ransom on encryption spasms to being used to develop viable solutions for distinct fields of the Internet.
Re-inventing threat intelligence through nectar tokens
Swarm’s token will possess a finite supply, with 70 percent of it being sold through the ICO. The firm itself will retain 15 percent of the tokens while the remaining 15 percent will finance the expansion of the network. The firm expects to raise a maximum of $50 million as well as a $5 million pre-sale. Along the way, Swarm foresees new business opportunities in assurance services like insurance, analysis, and verification of security specialists.
Provided that the ERC-20 token will be operating on the Ethereum blockchain, Bassi believes that engaging in smart contracts will be the key driver of the offering’s success. All payments on the hub will be made using the nectar tokens. However, the payments will not just move from Swarm to the community of researchers. Instead, the micro-engines will utilize some amount of nectar tokens to evaluate the digital items it is scanning.
Every micro-engine (including the researcher who developed it) that makes an accurate assessment receives a portion of the payment made for the scan as a well as a portion of any nectar that was risked by micro-engines that made an incorrect assessment of the digital product. Bassi believes that this system of shared rewards motivates researchers to identify unique niche areas to scan. This mechanism is popular among modern anti-virus companies that look to expand their client bases by putting in place structures that focus on identifying and dealing with vulnerabilities against popular software.
The intention of Swarm is not to throw incumbents like McAfee and Norton out of business. Instead, Bassi pointed out that those firms could act as what PolySwarm refers to as “ambassadors” whose main purpose is to cultivate and manage the relations with clients as PolySwarm allows them to guard against upcoming threats.
Critics of Blockchain
For some people, incorporating blockchain in the Internet security sector will not bring any meaningful benefits. For example, Jessy Irwin, a renowned security consultant and a graduate of AgileBits, believes trying to add blockchain as a solution to Internet threats is an unrealistic incentive. She added that threat intelligence became distributed and collaborative a couple of years ago. She stated that malware researchers and hunters are widely distributed in distinct organizations across the globe. She emphasized that people who handle such issues show a high level of collaboration with one another, especially when dealing with specific campaigns and projects.
Although Irwin is unconvinced, other globally recognized security researchers give the impression that they understand the value of the project. Advisers of Swarm Technologies concerning the project consist of Mark Tonnesen, who has completed several executive tenures at McAfee and Cisco, Dan Guido, who serves as the boss of Trail of Bits, a leading security firm that holds a membership status at the prestigious Enterprise Ethereum Alliance.
According to Bassi, incorporating blockchain in the security sector is a step in the right direction. Thanks to the token, it is now possible to move rewards throughout borders in sub-cent quantities without necessarily seeking the help of the international banking infrastructure. A few years back, such transactions solely relied on global banking infrastructure.
Speaking to CoinDesk, Guido referred to Swarm as a group of security engineers who had discovered an innovative way of solving an old problem using blockchain technology. Guido added that if there were other easier and affordable ways to solve the problem, these engineers could have embraced them. However, Bassi is confident that smart contracts are the best tools to get enough eyes on threats.