Beyond Protocol — A New Frontier
A fast, flexible, secure, and unified IoT framework will allow the machines we rely on to serve the greater good like never before. But how? In this second installment of our introductory series, we’ll review how our tech works, and what this means for you.
In the introductory article of this series, we covered our company origins and established why there’s a crucial need for security in the IoT space.
Simply put, the Internet of Things cannot serve the greater good without adequate security. Artificial Intelligence continues to merge with human consciousness in innumerable ways, and as the individual begins gradually to relinquish direct control to automation, security is nonnegotiable — we all need to trust the devices that are becoming increasingly intertwined with the fabric of our existence.
With respect to IoT security, the events of our early days — from Jonathan Manzi’s time at Stanford, to meeting Denis Benic, to the pair co-founding ink, then linking up with HP Inc. to help solve the printer security problem — became the perfect storm.
For the first time, a worthy solution emerged, one that built security into its very core from the ground-up.
Now that you‘ve read about our beginnings, and the big security problem in IoT, it’s time to take a deeper dive into how we fix it.
What We Do
Our aim in building Beyond Protocol was to create the ideal IoT framework:
- Let all hardware devices worldwide speak to one another, across a single unified medium
- Make it fully decentralized and dynamic, inviting anyone to build
And most importantly:
- Full built-in security, make hacks impossible
Our ambition here is intentional, and bears repeating — we expect this to change the world, and not just for a little while.
Think iPhone in 2008.
Envision Mega Apps custom-built by talented developers, tying all sorts of different devices together in seamless cooperation — full automation.
Is the picture clear yet? We don’t blame you if it’s still a bit fuzzy. Our view is that most of the possibilities unlocked by Beyond Protocol are simply unimaginable at this time. But, for a moment, let’s consider one possible use-case.
Imagine What Could Be
Your house is on fire.
It’s 3:32am, and you wake up in a panic to a room filled with smoke and suffocating heat. The kids are asleep down the hallway, and you immediately try and shake your partner awake — a flash of abject fear fades to a deeply visceral need to survive.
Now let’s pause — back to reality.
Tragically, too many have lost their lives in a scenario like what we briefly considered above. At this point, you’re likely asking what on earth any of this has to do with Distributed Ledger Technology, Blockchain, or PUF.
Well, it’s simple. Beyond Protocol can prevent this.
What If Your Smoke Alarm Was Smarter?
Let’s get back to our house fire for just a moment.
Imagine your smoke alarm was IoT-enabled and immediately did the following once sufficiently triggered:
- notified the local Fire Department
- contacted and deployed several firefighter drones, equipped to douse powerfully an active fire closest to where human biomarkers were detected
- sent out carrier drones to rescue family members from any nearby windows
If the latter two actions sound unlike something your local municipality would offer as a public service, then imagine this final possibility:
- the drones were included as part of your homeowner’s insurance, and made micropayments in real-time for electricity and water usage, while en-route to save your family
This is what Beyond Protocol makes possible. It wasn’t possible before because your smoke alarm would not have been secure enough for you to allow others to monitor and build applications on top of it. Even if you trusted the developers and your Fire Department, opening it up would make it too easy for bad actors to harm you.
And this is just one application. Imagine if we empower the smartest and most creative among us to build applications on top of any combination of devices. Apple’s App Store revolutionized industries by allowing developers to build on top of just one device — the iPhone. By securing all of our devices and allowing them to collaborate, Beyond Protocol will improve the quality of life of mankind. The potential for innovation is limitless.
Built To Last
Technology moves fast. As a result, many machines, computers, networks, and software become outdated pretty quickly.
The result? New functionality is often grafted onto existing tech that clearly wasn’t designed for advancement past what could be envisioned at the time. Consensus tech framework either quickly changes, or fails to develop altogether within industries.
Admittedly, all technology must eventually be replaced.
But by taking a long-term view, we can slow this down. By developing with not just a self-interested eye to the future, but with vision that imagines how all of humanity can benefit, our technology’s lifespan can go from being measured in months and years, to decades — and, perhaps in some cases, much longer.
So how does one build an IoT framework that will not just gain mass-adoption, but have staying power?
Security — Built In From The Ground Up
As chronicled in the first article of this series, Beyond Protocol was born after a meeting between Jonathan and Denis and HP Inc.’s CEO Enrique Lores — enterprise printers were the leading entry point bad actors used to infiltrate organizations and the industry needed a solution.
Jonathan and Denis’s solution renders devices probabilistically impossible to hack. The groundbreaking methodology combined two pieces of innovative technology:
- Device-specific Hardware Signatures (PUF): allows for all network devices to be securely identified, cloning rendered impossible
- Blockchain-based Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT): allows for an unchangeable, decentralized record of all devices and transactions
Each of these technologies bring a strong security element to the table; when combined within the same protocol, these characteristics are strengthened infinitely.
Let’s dive into each to understand why.
PUF — The “Fingerprint”
So what exactly is PUF, and how does it work within Beyond Protocol?
Think digital fingerprint for every device on the network. Denis explains further in our whitepaper:
No two silicon chips in an IoT [network] are alike, even if they share the same design and fabrication process. Unavoidable and uncontrollable variations at a molecular scale are manufactured into each chip, making it unique. A Physical Unclonable Function (PUF) utilizes these variations as a means of biometric identity.
What sorts of variations? He continues:
Every transistor in an Integrated Circuit (IC) has slightly different physical properties. These lead to measurable differences in electronic properties like threshold voltage and gain factor. Since these process variations are uncontrollable during manufacturing, the physical properties of a device can neither be copied nor cloned. It is impossible to purposely create a device with a given electronic fingerprint, making PUFs well-suited for device authentication.
In short, each device that interacts with Beyond Protocol — whether its an electric car, scooter, fire alarm, drone, smartphone, refrigerator, etc. ad infinitum — has a bulletproof fingerprint.
DLT — The “Ledger”
Blockchain is a digital ledger. Each event on the blockchain — every data transfer — is permanently recorded and can be referenced indefinitely.
But what is a blockchain built on? How does it exist?
When any blockchain protocol — or “language” — is developed, it begins to exist on a piece of computer hardware. This is the first node. As nodes are added, each, quite literally, becomes part of the blockchain.
An entire “protocol” can technically run on just one node, but this would be completely inadvisable from a practical standpoint (imagine mission critical information being at the mercy of one device’s reliability); for any blockchain to be secure and reliable, many nodes are needed.
To become a node, a device must download the entire transaction history of the blockchain. By doing this, it begins to function as a real-time verifier of all blockchain activity.
The more nodes on a blockchain, the more secure and reliable the blockchain becomes. Decentralization ensures a robust, resilient network.
Right now in cybersecurity, we have encryption. Encryption makes it so that when I send you a message, others can’t peer in and see the content. There is an issue though. If someone pretends they’re me and sends you a message, you’ll open it up and do what you think I said. There is no bigger issue in cybersecurity.
With PUF, devices — your smart phone, a smoke detector, a car — sign messages using their chips to vouch they are who they say they are. You can think of this no differently than when you send a letter and sign it with a pen. Then distributed ledger technology comes in: sitting around the device which sent the message are nodes — you can think of them like computers — which have a record of many devices’ hardware signatures. These validating nodes vouch for the fact that your device is who it says it is; that its hardware signature is legitimate. Every time an additional validating node is added to the equation, it becomes more and more probabilistically impossible for there to be spoofing.
Beyond Protocol is the world’s first unhackable distributed ledger technology and allows safe-harbor for the world’s most valuable information. While others might try to tear down, Beyond Protocol protects us, and empowers us to dream and build.
So What’s Next? Testnet, Electric Cars, And More…
We hope you enjoyed this summary of the tech behind Beyond Protocol; we felt it was critical to get this information across in a more informal, plainspoken manner. For an even more concise overview, we encourage you to watch this video overview by Jonathan.
For the technically inclined, a much deeper dive into the nuts and bolts of Beyond Protocol can be found here in our whitepaper.
We’d also like to share this video — here, our co-founder Denis Benic introduces a live “testnet” demo of Beyond Protocol in action.
One of our very first use-cases will center around electric cars.
We’re grateful for and galvanized by all the wide support our mission has garnered thus far. Please continue to follow our official social media channels for more news to come.
With security as a given, we can open up our devices for collaboration. Using them like threads of yarn, the dreamers among us can weave together inventions we would have never thought to conceive.
- Jonathan Manzi