PolySwarm: Disrupting Cybersecurity using Smart Contracts

Steve Bassi, CEO, PolySwarmSteve Bassi, CEO
Seamless connectivity is a glorious rendition of the presentdayworld. But let’s not forget that everything that can beconnected to the internet can also be hacked. According toIBM, in 2016 alone there were 4,000 ransomware attacksa day, with an alarming and increasing portion of the attacks goingundetected by antivirus products. “The existing centralized modelincentivizes antivirus companies to focus on common knownthreats, competing for the same limited resources, deprioritizingR&D, and incurring in duplicative costs and efforts that result insimilar coverage (and protection gaps) among vendors,” remarksSteve Bassi, CEO of PolySwarm.

PolySwarm is a blockchain cybersecurity startup taking avery novel approach to disrupt the antivirus industry. “We areusing blockchain technology to revert the existing threat detectioneconomics. Smart contracts allowed us to program a competitiveenvironment—an economy—where a crowdsourced network ofsecurity experts are incentivized to keep their anti malware enginesup to date and accurately detect threats. That’s the gap we’re tryingto fill: make it continually profitable to protect users,” added Bassi.

Another notorious industry problem is the lack ofinteroperability between antivirus solutions, preventing usersfrom using more than one solution at a time by vendor design.

Smart contracts allowed us to literally program a competitive environment—an economy—that rewards accurate threat detection

In contrast, PolySwarm’s marketplace enables interoperabilitybetween anti-malware software (“micro engines”), aggregating thecoverage from hundreds of providers, and expanding protection.This also allows specialized solutions to enter a market currentlyinaccessible. “PolySwarm grew out of frustration we had doingwork on Narf Industries. We’d developed all these cool tools thathad narrow, but, deep applications to cyber threat detection andmitigation but didn’t have a way to get them looking at real stuffthe enterprise was facing. That’s why we made PolySwarm, weknew there were other small security shops like us that had toolsthat could protect users. Additionally, there was no good way to getaccess to all of these tools through one interface. That’s also wherePolySwarm comes in: it serves as one big umbrella built from acollection of the best security expertise,” says Bassi.

In PolySwarm’s market, threat detection is automated and realtime: scanning, analyzing, and making binary assertions (maliciousor not) on files is performed by “micro engines” (software),authored by security experts who get paid to accurately detectmalware. Assertions on files or urls are performed by stakingtokens, making suppliers put their money where their mouth is:discouraging spam, incentivizing honest, active engagement, andreducing the noise in results caused by uncertain responses. Onthe demand side of the marketplace, PolySwarm doesn’t competedirectly with antivirus companies but rather complements them;doing best what they are deficient at: detecting new malware.Companies like McAfee or ESET can plug into the marketplace,expand the detection coverage provided to their customers, andaccess new malware of samples.

So far PolySwarm has already released three versions oftheir product: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and is all geared to releasePolySwarm 1.0 by the end of next year. The company is steadilyonboarding security experts and antivirus companies into theirmarketplace. “We have a very strong pipeline of partnerships toannounce with leading tech and antivirus companies in the space.We are excited to start releasing the news within the upcomingmonths,” ends Bassi.