Steve Bassi is the CEO, Developer and founder of Polyswarm. He previously founded Narf Industries, an information security R&D firm, with marquee clients from DARPA to members of the Fortune 500. With over 20 years experience in information security, he will be sharing with us in this interview, how he is bringing blockchain into security with the Polyswarm decentralized security plartform and cryptocurrency;
1) Could you tell us about PolySwarm, what it offers and how it came about?
Steve : PolySwarm is a decentralized threat intelligence and anti-virus platform where enterprises and end users can benefit from security experts, world wide, protecting them from emerging malware and other internet threats.
PolySwarm came about from a frustration we had within our cyber security R&D company, Narf Industries. We built a bunch of narrowly focused solutions to security problems but had no way to get them widely distributed and protecting enterprises.
2) You have a fascinating background in Cyber-Security. You previously founded Narf Industries, an information security R&D, and you are currently the CEO of PolySwarm. What drew you to cybersecurity?
Steve : Oh man, when I was about 11 or 12, I hacked into a local company. They caught me and instead of getting really mad, they said come work for us. So I did and was lucky to have really great technical mentors at a young age — I’ve always been interested in security since its really about understanding the unintended consequences of what we as a society build: software, airports, spaceships, whatever. Those things are incredibly complex and understanding what may break inside their designs fascinates me.
3) When and how did you realize that the blockchain technology could specifically be used to combat security threats?
Steve : I got into bitcoin in 2010. Mine is a sad story, but I thought distributed consensus and cryptography together is an amazing way to build solutions for problems that still exist and haven’t been possible to address in today’s institutional structures.
So when, around 2010. How? Well, that’s only been possible with this rise of idea of smart contracts. The idea that you can program a market, like PolySwarm, to completely re-address a problem (like anti-virus) is really what gets me up in the morning.
4) Generally, what do you think Blockchain can do for cybersecurity?
Steve : Simply, redefine the economics of cyber security in a few areas. We’re obviously working on anti-malware but I’ve seen some other interesting ideas ranging from giving people back control of their data to incentivizing better audits of smart contracts.
5) PolySwarm intends to bring together a global network of anti-malware experts to compete in order to protect individual and organizations. How is that possible?
Steve : So its only possible within the last 3 years with the rise of smart contracts + blockchain like Ethereum. This makes it possible to move sub-cent amounts and reward security experts without using the traditional banking structures. Our market, threat intelligence, is high volume where billions of artifacts, daily, need to be declared safe for users to open, email, etc and so this smart-contract based primitive of being able to build unique reward structures around detecting malware is what makes PolySwarm possible.
6) What do ICO participants get by joining your ICO?
Steve : Security experts obtain Nectar to fuel their micro-engines, software that is hooked up to PolySwarm to look for threats and keep users safe. Consumers, Enterprises, and providers of security services get Nectar tokens, which can be used on the PolySwarm network to receive an umbrella of protection from world wide security expertise.
7) How do you see PolySwarm project running after it completes its ICO?
Steve : We plan to have PolySwarm launched by the ICO. After the ICO completes, we’ll look to onboard more experts and enterprises, and develop software tooling that makes PolySwarm easy to use for everyone in the ecosystem.
Two big things we want to do, right away, is to: (1) create an open source and transparent anti-virus agent for Windows PCs that (2) uses PolySwarm as a backend. We think this will help us achieve our core mission of protecting users and rewarding security experts right off the bat.
As far as how we plan on running PolySwarm, it will be the same as our internal team. It’s a meritocracy where security experts with the best micro-engines in any category will reap the largest rewards. We plan to be open and transparent about our development and welcome expert opinions.
8) Tell us about your team?
Steve : Sure, we’re growing rapidly but the core technical team comes out of Narf Industries and we’ve been working together on cyber security R&D for years together. https://polyswarm.io/the_team/index.html
What that page doesn’t tell you is that every technical person on the team has been interested in information security since their formative years. We care pretty deeply about securing systems and even do it for fun at Defcon CTF. I was pretty stoked that a Silicon Valley episode made an oblique reference:
9) As an expert in the field of computer security, what are at least two ways you wish every individual or company think differently about cybersecurity?
Steve : Philosophically, computer security is about exploring unintended consequences. Computers usually do what they’re told to, not what you intend them to do. We’re engineering complexity so fast in our society: machine learning, self-driving cars, airplanes; there’s a lot of code being created to run these things. What are the unintended consequences? Our job is to point them out as vulnerabilities and identify attackers trying to exploit them. Also, it’s pretty fun.
10) Kindly give us a step-by-step guide on how to participate in your token sale?
Steve : In a few days we’ll have a registration and sale site linked on polyswarm.io. You’ll have to do some basic registration (name, email, address) and then you’ll be able to get a contribution address and transaction identifier to send to an Ethereum smart contract. We’ll have how-to videos and a lot of help for people. We hope to make the process as smooth as possible. We’ll be on chat (https://t.me/PolySwarm) and email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to help!
11) Is there any other important message you would like to pass across to readers?
Steve : We hope they take an interest in cyber security both for themselves and others. It’s a fascinating field and an important piece of the PolySwarm goal is to increase both the amount of and access to security expertise.