Steve Bassi, PolySwarm’s CEO, wants to help you protect your software, cryptocurrency, website, whatever, from security threats. The secret? Have cybersecurity experts compete for the solution to your problem on a decentralized platform. PolySwarm recently made an industry-leading partnership with the decentralized mobile security solutions provider Rivetz, to form the Decentralized Cybersecurity Consortium (DC2). This powerhouse team will likely be a force to be reckoned with in the cybersecurity world and are looking to be leaders in public discourse and policy for the $8.5 billion per year threat intelligence market.
Steve Bassi, PolySwarm CEO
We’ve all had that oh sh*t moment. You had your cryptocurrency in a wallet that was hacked. You think your company’s blockchain startup might have a malicious bug. The mouse on your computer seems to have a life of its own, while your laptop camera loves to peek at you while it’s “off.” The biggest problem with all of this? You’re not quite sure who to talk to about fixing the problem. In a relatively new industry, every consumer knows that becoming involved with cryptocurrency comes with its own set of risks. Using online wallets, centralized or decentralized exchanges, or even surfing the web could inadvertently put you at some serious risks. Many of us have experienced these feelings of fear and disappointment; the team at PolySwarm is no different. “It was a frustration for us internally. We were like, oh, let’s not get mad, let’s get even.” CEO Steve Bassi explained over Skype. PolySwarm boasts perhaps one of the most needed projects in the blockchain and crypto space – a platform that uses a bounty program to solve cybersecurity problems.
The PolySwarm ecosystem has four kinds of participants: Ambassadors, Arbiters, Enterprises, and Experts, with all payment and rewards delivered in the form of Nectar tokens. Experts help collect and develop competing “micro-engines” that automatically investigate recent threats, attempting to outperform their competition. Ambassadors mediate between the end users/Enterprises who have suspicious artifacts (potential bugs). The best Ambassadors become Arbiters and will speak consistently with the PolySwarm team about current issues within the ecosystem. It seems as if PolySwarm’s infrastructure is built to be not only comprehensive and caring, but provide constant communication channels that prevent users from feeling as if they’re alone in their security problems.
While the project is competing against already-established security firms such as McAfee, there’s an incredible opportunity to collaborate. “How can we work together? How can we make it better? How can we use distributed platform?” Bassi excitedly riffed, “Remember, before this, [larger companies] didn’t build their own distributed platform to pay small security shops for expertise in different countries. And I would argue that’s because that was too hard in the traditional banking structure. It’s too hard to figure out and not worth it from a business standpoint for them.” From a financial perspective, these larger companies may stand to benefit from working with these smaller cybersecurity shops; PolySwarm has created a platform where professional relationships and tailor-made solutions are a specialty.
Bassi’s experience in the cybersecurity space runs deep. After hacking into a local company when he was around twelve years old, Bassi was asked to join the company he had broken into. He was exposed to what we in the tech world consider to be ‘the good stuff’: enterprise-level hardware and cybersecurity software. After building a successful research and development company called Narf Industries in 2012, he went on to do work for the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and wrote software prototypes solving security problems. In 2010, Bassi was living in Japan and exposed to the original Bitcoin community. After reading through the source code, he began mining and garnered over 10,000 Bitcoins and made the mistake that many early adopters made: he sold. Granted, the money he made paid for his wedding (aww, that’s sweet, c’mon) and watched as Mt. Gox’s implosion shook the crypto world to its core.
It took Bassi almost half a decade to get back to Bitcoin, and in 2016, received a job from the Department of Homeland Security that used Ethereum’s blockchain to look at identity management. At Narf, Bassi’s team built incredibly useful but specific technical solutions, which resulted in some of their enterprise clients rejecting their services due to the lack of breadth. “We got kind of upset about this. We were like, ‘alright, well there are lots of other smaller security shops like us. They write software for security problems, and they have no other distribution channel’.” Bassi described, “We spent a lot of time looking at antivirus software, and the single vendor model clearly doesn’t work.”
“If you’re locked out of your machine, there’s no clear-cut answer as to who you’re going to call. If we develop this expertise with Polyswarm, people will have a much better ideal as to which numbers to dial.”
Then, cryptocurrency became a significant part of our world, bringing with it gaping holes in security measures for users, token distributors, and exchanges. Vendors can’t use security intelligence from other vendors, creating a massive problem: if there are imminent threats on a blockchain, website, or exchange, the vendor may not be able to solve a client’s virus or security threats when using a larger-scale service. Typically, most cybersecurity coverage is too broad and weak simultaneously. Scary. “We basically wanted to create a way of structuring this sort of umbrella that took narrow focus solutions from anywhere on the planet, and connect them into a protective umbrella for end users that, by redoing the economics and how its done, is a lot better for people’s safety,” Bassi explained. By taking advantage of regional knowledge, the PolySwarm platform can help Enterprises get a wider global reach on threats that their in-house security teams can’t fix. As the bugs get smarter, so should the solutions to exterminate them.
There are still broader problems unforeseen presently – the future road bumps pose some serious problems to the general consumer; mostly in that there’s no easy solution for solving them. “If you’re locked out of your machine, there’s no clear-cut answer as to who you’re going to call. If we develop this expertise with Polyswarm, people will have a much better idea as to which numbers to dial.” Bassi said. “I’m really excited about adding and thinking through more capabilities of our marketplace, such that we actually go beyond anti-virus and threat protection, and ask how do we help people if something goes wrong.”
Polyswarm’s token sale begins February 6th.
Quotes may have been edited for length or clarity.