Liberation Army Daily: The military application of blockchain is not yet mature, and there are still four major risks.

Source: People's Liberation Army Daily, the original question "How Blockchain Affects Modern Military"

Author: Yuan Yi Shi Huimin Li Zhifei


At present, the blockchain has become a new generation of information technology that is as important as artificial intelligence, quantum information, and the Internet of Things, and may have subversive effects. It is “a gold mine with unexplored reserves”. Like other emerging technologies, they will inevitably be used in the military field. In recent years, the military of developed countries in the world have explored the military application of blockchains in an attempt to take the lead in the new wave of military revolution. To this end, it is necessary to scientifically predict the impact and impact of the blockchain on the military field, tap the military application potential of the blockchain, and do a good job of "blockchain + military" to enhance the military's informationization and intelligence. The level is injected with strong power.

Blockchain technology features meet specific military needs


Blockchain technology, in a network environment consisting of nodes lacking mutual trust, solves the problem of how each node achieves a credible consensus through the dynamic cycle of "competition-verification-synchronization-competition", and finally becomes an individual. A new technology platform for effective and credible cooperation through third-party certification. In a nutshell, a blockchain is a “distributed ledger” where each node can display general ledgers, maintain general ledgers, and cannot falsify ledgers. The technical characteristics embodied by the blockchain can meet the specific needs of the military field.

The decentralized nature of the blockchain fits the military needs of anti-destructive survival. The blockchain adopts distributed accounting and storage. It does not depend on third-party management organizations. Each node stores complete data backup. One node has problems. Other nodes will continue to update and store data. In theory, only one When a node exists, it can guarantee that all information will not be lost. The modern warfare confrontation is becoming more and more fierce. The key information of the command organization, the communication hub and its storage need to adopt a reliable decentralization technology like blockchain to spread the deployment to avoid being "one-pot" under the enemy's precision strike.

The blockchain can be traced back to the trust requirements of the non-tamperable character of the cooperative warfare command. The blockchain is constructed with assumptions that the nodes in the network are not completely trusted and are designed from the ground up to run maintenance data in a competitive, unreliable network environment. It uses a unique consensus mechanism and relies on asymmetric cryptographic algorithms to complete credit guarantees. The data rewriting process can be traced back and forth. Malicious attackers can tamper with the destruction information unless they modify more than 51% of the nodes at the same time, which is difficult to achieve in practice. . The command of the military commander is highly authoritative. It adopts a blockchain-like consensus mechanism, which can completely record the orders issued by commanders at all levels, and facilitate the investigation of responsibility for command errors. It also avoids the use of various information by the enemy. Insertion means issuing false orders to disrupt the command system.

The characteristics of blockchain transparent open collective participation are in line with the military needs of information security sharing. Any participant in the blockchain is an equal-privileged node. In addition to the private information encryption of each participant, the data is transparently disclosed to all, and the data is automatically and securely verified and exchanged based on consensus specifications and protocols. The second generation blockchain also introduces artificial intelligence judgment methods to analyze the behavior of network nodes and intelligently identify potential thieves and attackers in the network. Based on the above characteristics, the blockchain is applied to the military field. Each combat unit or platform can securely acquire and publish information at any time according to the authority, without relying on third-party authentication in a non-complete trust network that may be subject to enemy soft and hard composite attacks. Thus, from the mechanism, it is forced to break the information barrier between the various branches of the armed forces.

Blockchain is used in combat and military management


At present, the foreign military has begun active exploration of the military application of blockchain. The US 2018 Fiscal Defense Authorization Act explicitly requires the Department of Defense to conduct a comprehensive study of blockchain technology. The US Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has developed blockchain technology to solve complex battlefield security communications and protect military satellites. Research on highly confidential data such as nuclear weapons against hackers; NATO organizes blockchain innovation competitions, develops military-level blockchain-related projects to improve military logistics, procurement and financial efficiency, and attempts to develop next generations using blockchain technology Military information system; the Russian Ministry of Defense established specialized research institutions to develop blockchain technology to strengthen cybersecurity and combat cyber attacks against critical information infrastructure; the Israeli military and civilian incubation system has positioned Israel as a “hot spot for blockchain innovation”. and many more. Judging from the exploration of national military forces, the military application of blockchain can be roughly divided into two major areas of combat and military management.

In the field of operations, the decentralization, scalability, cross-network distribution, and strong encryption of the blockchain can effectively improve the security and invulnerability of the combat network and greatly enhance the flexibility and tenacity of the combat system. For example, the command information system for large-scale key weapons such as medium- and long-range missiles uses blockchain technology. By strengthening identity authentication, it ensures that the superior commands can be trusted, effectively avoiding misoperations, false commands, and protecting key data of weapon systems from hackers. Tampering and firepower destroyed. Blockchain is expected to realize the transformation of trust mechanism from personal trust, institutional trust to machine trust. It is of great significance to realize the new man-machine/machine-machine command and control mode that matches unmanned combat. The introduction of blockchain technology by unmanned clusters, with its consensus mechanism, can effectively prevent malicious nodes from impersonating or deceiving network power attacks, maintain reliable interconnection and ensure stable and efficient operation of unmanned clusters.

In the field of military management, the block trust mechanism of the blockchain can reduce the uncertainty, diversity and complexity brought about by human factors in the military management process. For example, in the field of equipment management, based on the blockchain, the equipment information life-cycle management system, which is jointly participated by the developer, the producer, and the user, and supervised by each other, is used to track the design parameters, test data, combat technology status, and maintenance records of the entire process. And other information to improve the efficiency and efficiency of equipment management. In the field of logistics support, the use of blockchain technology to manage important data in military logistics chains such as user demand, warehousing, loading and transportation, and distribution and transit, helps to break the group of military logistics packaging, loading, unloading, transportation and dismantling. Network communication, data storage and system maintenance issues. In the field of human resources, information such as military personnel's employment experience, rewards and punishments, and other information are stored in a blockchain format, which can effectively prevent problems such as loss of file information and human tampering.

Facing the limitations and risks of military application of blockchain


In a sense, blockchain is a new type of information technology that sacrifices storage space, access speed and overall efficiency in exchange for data security and trust. It is mainly suitable for low-frequency use, high security requirements, low timeliness, and data. A small number of military applications. The application of blockchain to the military field also has its limitations and certain risks, mainly in:

High redundancy and high energy consumption are difficult to meet the requirements of lightweight and expansion. Each node in the blockchain must synchronize all the book data in real time, how many times the blocks need to store duplicate data, and as the amount of data increases and the new nodes are added, the system redundancy will be further improved and needs to be consumed. A large number of storage resources, which puts high demands on the storage, computing and communication capabilities of combat units or platform terminals, which is contrary to the trend of lightweight and miniaturized equipment. As the number of blockchain nodes expands, the power, bandwidth, and energy consumed by each node to synchronize data will become larger and larger. The more nodes, the higher the storage requirements for subsequent new nodes and the more difficult the access. The longer the synchronization time and the lower the overall operational efficiency, it is not conducive to large-scale on-demand expansion of the combat system.

Complex data synchronization mechanisms are difficult to meet high-frequency fast response requirements. Each data modification in the blockchain requires all nodes in the system to update the account data synchronously, which takes a long time. If the operation is too frequent in a short time, it will occupy a large amount of bandwidth and may cause network congestion. Modern warfare has entered the era of "second kill", especially at the tactical and platform levels, the situation information is updated faster, the combat unit and platform information support applications are more frequent, and the blockchain is difficult to meet such real-time response requirements.

Consensus mechanisms and encryption algorithms still have certain security risks. Blockchain technology uses a large number of cryptographic algorithms. The degree of security of the consensus mechanism depends on the difficulty of solving the mathematical problems on which the cryptographic algorithms are based. In fact, these mathematical problems are not absolutely safe, and there is still a risk of being cracked. For example, the elliptic curve-based cryptographic algorithm widely used in blockchains is very difficult to solve with classical computers, but it is a breeze for quantum computers. At present, the world powers are stepping up efforts to break through quantum computing technology. Once the reliable and practical quantum computer is successfully developed, most of the blockchain technology will lose its security.

The smaller size of the military blockchain reduces system security. From the principle of blockchain technology, unless the attacker modifies more than 51% of the nodes at the same time, the blockchain data can be successfully falsified. Therefore, the more nodes there are, the more difficult it is for an attacker to tamper with the blockchain. Blockchains used in the military field usually have a much smaller number of nodes than Internet-based civil systems. In the wartime, in the face of large-scale network attacks where the enemy concentrated a large amount of computing resources, it is still possible to modify more than half of the nodes and successfully tamper with the data.

Take effective measures to promote blockchain military applications


In addition to bitcoin, the blockchain has no mature application cases in the civilian sector. The application of blockchain in the military field, the military of various countries is in the exploratory stage, accelerate the military application of blockchain, and continuously expand the breadth and depth of its application, the following measures can be taken.

Strengthen the overall planning of military applications in blockchains. In-depth research and demonstration of military application of blockchain, careful analysis of the priority areas of military application of blockchain and its necessity, feasibility, expected military benefits and possible risks, forming a roadmap for military application of blockchain, and incorporating into military construction development plan. Blockchain deployment is a cluster deployment rather than a single point deployment. It usually needs to be cross-service, cross-departmental, and cross-cutting. It should clearly identify the lead department, participating units, task division, working mechanism, and safeguard measures of the application project to ensure that all levels are in the district. The blockchain military application is coordinated and orderly.

Innovative blockchain military application model. Grasp the block chain operation mechanism, technical characteristics and development level, develop strengths and avoid weaknesses, and further explore, refine and expand the military application field of blockchain. Select military logistics, human resources and other application areas with small risks and quick results to conduct preliminary experiments, joint research and pilot projects, and explore the software and hardware environment requirements, operational rules and supporting mechanisms for military applications of blockchains, and form a mature model. Open the application.

Break through the bottleneck of military application technology in blockchain. In response to the special requirements of the military field for blockchain applications, accelerate the deep integration of blockchain and artificial intelligence, big data, Internet of Things and other cutting-edge information technologies to make up for the lack or weakness of blockchain performance and improve the operational efficiency of blockchain systems. . Increase the development of the underlying technologies such as consensus mechanisms, smart contracts, distributed communications and storage, and meet the three requirements of “decentralization”, “safety”, “performance and efficiency”, and make the blockchain system performance reach military-grade standards.

(Author: War Academy, Academy of Military Sciences)