UNLOCK Blockchain met with Paul Makowski, Chief Technology Officer, PolySwarm during the BII Summit held in Dubai. PolySwarm is currently building the first Ethereum decentralized marketplace where security experts build anti-malware engines. So instead of mining bitcoins they are mining malware detecting potentially new threats.
In doing so, PolySwarm incentivizes rapid innovation in the $8.5B/yr cyber threat intelligence space with precise economic instruments that reward a global community of security experts for timely and accurate malware identification. The PolySwarm market runs on Nectar (“NCT”), an ERC20-compatible utility token that makes it easy to submit and classify potential threats on the PolySwarm market. Nectar replaces traditional, outdated antivirus and threat-scanning subscription payments.
PolySwarm is building its platform on Ethereum incorporating Smart Contracts for their market development. According to Makowski, “Polyswarm was built off of Narf Industries, LLC, an information security firm that recently completed a blockchain-based identity management project for the Department of Homeland Security as well as cutting-edge information security projects for DARPA. PolySwarm’s advisory board includes former McAfee CIO Mark Tonnesen, alongside renowned information security and blockchain experts Dan Guido, Chris Eagle, Dr. Sergey Bratus, and Carl Hoffman. We saw an opportunity to fix concerns for digital malware and bring a solution to the market.”
He adds, “Currently companies purchase Malware solutions that can cover 80% of the risks out there and most product offerings out there are similar and today don’t cover Internet of Things or SCADA. This is not because there is a lack of interest from the market but because most companies cannot afford to tackle these specialized solutions. So we decided that it would be interesting to use the expertise of security experts from around the globe who would build anti-malware engines and feed it into the marketplace better than most competitors out there. Then security companies would be our ambassadors to the clients. “
Why Use a Marketplace instead of just sharing information as what is currently the practice? According to Makowski today security companies are paying huge sums of money for companies that aggregate Malware data from solution providers around the world. He states, “On average huge security solution providers pay $160,000 to receive this aggregate data and then end users pay subscription fees to these ambassadors. So hopefully with a marketplace that ambassadors and huge end users can use, we can bring down the cost but more importantly provide more value to them.”
Polyswarm is also developing its partnerships and recently announced one with Vector35 makers of the reverse engineering platform Binary Ninja. Through this partnership, PolySwarm will support the development of Binary Ninja, whose world class analysis capabilities will be provided to security experts in the PolySwarm ecosystem offering them a more powerful toolset.
PolySwarm completed its token offering and was able to raise $25.94 million dollars. The tokens are pure utility tokens that ambassadors can use to enter and solicit solutions from the marketplace. To entice security experts to join the marketplace as well, Polyswarm developed a contest on its site, the PolySwarm’s Malware Bounty Program that rewards security experts in Nectar tokens for uploading malware samples, 100 Binary Ninja student licenses will be given away to the first 100 security experts who earn 5,000 tokens. Thousands of dollars worth of tokens are being awarded every day from a $300,000 USD reward pool. As Makowski explained, “ We asked security experts around the world to upload a unique piece of malware on out site and we would reward them with Necter (NCT), we intend first to test how strong our security is on the site as well as encourage security exerts to stay with us once the marketplace is launched.”
In terms of revenues, PolySwarm will be providing value added services on top of its offering. Makowski states, “ Using the data collected from how security experts track record on Polyswarm marketplace we will create a reputation score that ambassadors can check for either hiring or paying more attention to what one security expert does over another.”
As for their presence in the MENA region, Makowski believes, “With the growth and development that is happening not only in Dubai but across the Gulf region, they have become prey to more and more malware attacks and this is a big topic here, so we are here to showcase what we can offer and garner investment.”
In Conclusion Polyswarm endeavors not only to build a stronger security defense mechanism against malware but in the process they could eventually sway current attackers who are driven by financial need to become defenders. Makowski explains, “Today there are two type of malware attackers those who come from countries that are economically struggling with strong education but lack of job opportunities and those who are driven by political or ideological goals. We hope that by offering a marketplace where security experts can use their talents for defending and get rewarded, they will be swayed from working for the opposite camp.”