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Factom, Inc., a start-up based in Austin, Texas, earned $192,380 to begin beta testing a capability that uses blockchain technology to secure Internet of Things (IoT) data.

This award is part of the fourth and final phase of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP).

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“The early phases of Factom’s work has informed architecture choices and design decisions inherent in integrating blockchain with existing technologies,” said Anil John, S&T Identity Management Research and Development Program Manager. “In Phase IV, Factom will deploy this technology in a realistic field environment with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to understand its operational impacts.”

Blockchain is a technology that is highly resistant to data modification. Transactions in a blockchain network are recorded as blocks of information in a chronological chain of data. Each chain is copied and kept synchronized across multiple nodes, or computers, making the system highly resilient to attacks or data loss. Data can be added to a blockchain, but no information in it can be modified retroactively or deleted without alerting users.

Cyber Security

Factom’s project combines blockchain technology with critical infrastructure — such as sensors and cameras — to protect the integrity and authenticity of data collected by these devices. The capabilities developed by this project integrate with existing IoT devices and does not require the creation of blockchain-specific technology.

The final phase of the SVIP project will see Factom testing its capability in an outside environment with limited Internet connectivity and in varied weather conditions to mimic the conditions under which U.S. Border Patrol agents operate. Factom’s goal is to demonstrate how IoT devices can maintain a high standard of reliability while eliminating the ability to spoof, modify or disrupt data from ground sensors and cameras. The end objective is to produce a commercially viable product ready to enter the market.

“Operational testing in a realistic U.S. Border Patrol environment will greatly benefit the development of this technology,” said Melissa Ho, SVIP managing director. “SVIP’s goal is to partner with companies to produce the best possible market-ready products that address homeland security needs and we feel that this project could reach that point.”

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