Windmill Enterprise, a new enterprise security startup, has developed an open source blockchain-based platform that is currently being piloted by a variety of companies to help them with IoT security.
Windmill’s platform, called Cognida, is based upon technology originally developed by Information Xchange, a consulting firm founded by Windmill CEO Michael Hathaway. The platform, which Hathaway describes as a “lightweight information management platform” basically assigns tokens to users and software applications. The platform then provides different levels of access permissions to internet-accessible data.
Windmill incorporated blockchain into that platform to create Cognida. Hathaway said Cognida consists of two components: An open source security offload service that sits in front of servers that are internet-connected and a lightweight agent technology that acts as a “man in the middle” for sensitive devices.
Hathaway added that sensitive devices could be a secure server that handles building automation or anything that a company doesn’t want connected directly to the internet.
Windmill is also incorporating FreeIPA, an authentication solution for Linux/Unix environments that is based upon open source components. Windmill recently contributed its back-end database that supports blockchain to the FreeIPA community.
Hathaway said that Windmill is not trying to create a new blockchain but instead just wants to secure things that use existing blockchain networks. He also doesn’t view Cognida as a competitor to other IoT platforms like GE’s Predix or Verizon’s Thingspace. Instead, Cognida provides the tools for securing the networking interface into the IoT platform. “We provide some basic tools at the edge to help with security,” he said.
The company, which was founded in October 2017, joined the Linux Foundation this week and will be part of EdgeX Foundry, the Linux Foundation’s open source industrial IoT group. EdgeX is in the midst of developing an open source IoT software. EdgeX’s California release, which made its debut in July, incorporates several new security features.
Hathaway said that he has been involved with EdgeX’s security policy and made sure that Cognida is compatible with EdgeX’s approach.
Going forward, Hathaway said the company plans to contribute to EdgeX and other open source platforms.
Windmill recently created the Cognida Foundation, a non-profit group, which will be home to the open source software platform.