Wisekey launches identity blockchain for commercial and recreational drones

Wisekey International Holding, a cybersecurity internet of things company, announced Tuesday that its blockchain distributed ledger technology now integrates into commercial and recreational drones to satisfy Federal Aviation Administration regulations and protect security concerns.

New regulations passed in the U.S. now permit small commercial drones to fly over populated areas for deliveries and services. These new rules will open up a large number of opportunities for businesses to take to the skies but they also include strict tracking requirements for drones pursuant to tracking concerns to address safety and security concerns.

Regarding these safety issues, all but the smallest drones must be equipped with what is essentially a digital license plate and a flight transponder. Starting in 2022, the FAA will require all drones sold in the U.S. weighing more than 0.55 pounds to come with a way to broadcast its location and identification to nearby authorities.

That’s where blockchain technology comes into play. A blockchain is a widely distributed historical ledger in a cryptographically secured format that can be used to protect content. Multiple parties distribute copies of the ledger in order to make the blockchain tamper-resistant and maintain the integrity of the blockchain.

In the case of Wisekey, a blockchain is used to securely store the identities of drones owned by companies and individuals and match them to their FAA licenses.

The technology uses Wisekey’s VaultIC4xx series platform that can secure and prove the drone’s digital identity, and at the same time protect the data and firmware against compromise when stored in the drone or in transit. The technology is already in use in Parrot SA’s drones, which Wisekey partnered with in June.

“As drone use continues to climb exponentially within the professional sector,” said Victor Vuillard, chief security officer and chief technology officer of cybersecurity at Parrot. As drone use continues to expand, Vuillard added, there will be an “immense need for cutting edge cybersecurity standards and capabilities to ensure the ongoing protection of valuable data.”

According to Wisekey, the VaultlC4xx series secure elements are certified by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology following FIPS140-2 Level 3 standard, one of the strongest and globally recognized digital security levels.

As the drone industry continues to get off the ground, blockchain is following behind it. Examples include Alphabet Inc.’s Wing Aviation LLC drone delivery service, Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Air Unit recent “air carrier” designation from the FAA and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. submitted patent applications for grocery delivery via drone, including one that’s blockchain-based.

Those are just a few examples from the commercial delivery sector. Drones are also workhorses in agriculture, construction, public safety, defense and inspection. As a result, even as drones have many useful applications, they can be used to cause harm. Not least, they can be very expensive pieces of equipment and subject to unlawful interference.

“Drones are increasingly used for sensitive operations thus remain a key target of bad actors,” said Carlos Moreira, Wisekey’s founder and chief executive.

Using the blockchain to securely store the identity of the drones combined with the digital license plate and Wisekey’s VaultlC4xx series platform, the company hopes to make the skies safer in the future.

Photo: Pixabay

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