Imagine you have three nations A, B, and C. Nation C considers an attack. Nation A has stored most of its assets in BTC. Nation B has stored most of its assets in commodities like gold.
In this scenario, Nation A’s assets in Bitcoin deter attack from hostile Nation C due to the low benefit-to-cost ratio, as the cryptographic security and ease of transferring digital assets make them nearly unseizable.
Conversely, Nation B’s physical assets are vulnerable, making it an attractive target for Nation C, seeking tangible assets to seize, showcasing Bitcoin’s strategic military advantage in asset protection.
That’s the TLDR of Jason Lowery, a Bitcoin advocate working for the US military space force, as he described it in his book Softwar that he was asked to take down. Seems like the US military doesn’t want people to know:
Physical security remains a vital aspect of maintaining the safety and well-being of individuals, organizations, and society. Understanding the role of power projection, warfare, and technology in the world is crucial, as it directly impacts our ability to protect valuable resources and territories.
Nature itself exemplifies physical security practices, continually adapting and evolving mechanisms to impose costs on potential attackers, in turn lowering the benefits these attackers may gain and ensuring survival. By examining fundamental natural principles, such as power projection and the benefit-to-cost ratio of attack, we can better comprehend and address physical security in our increasingly digitized world.
As civilization progresses into cyberspace, new challenges and concerns arise regarding maintaining zero-trust, permissionless environments and ensuring freedom of access to various mediums. Historically, military and defense forces have played crucial roles in guaranteeing security in land, sea, air, and space domains. In the context of cyberspace and information technology, these traditional frameworks must be reimagined, while still employing essential principles of physical security.
Physical Security 101
When discussing physical security, it’s vital to understand the role of power projection in society. In a world where everything can be physically attacked, every organism, organization, and individual has a stake in protecting itself.
The benefit of attacking something can be represented by a variable, and the idea is that there’s a benefit to attacking anything or anyone. In order to keep yourself secure, you need to impose a cost on those who would attack you, thus creating a balance between the benefit and cost of attack.
In nature, organisms optimize themselves to reduce their vulnerabilities and impose a physical cost on attackers. This is essentially the return on investment (ROI) for engaging in an attack. All physical security works to reduce the benefit-to-cost ratio of attack, making it your responsibility to decrease such ratio for self-protection.
Considering the world around us, we can observe how the surviving organisms and structures are the ones who have succeeded in the power projection game. The major players in nature use physical force to achieve control over territory and other vital resources. This power projection is inherently permissionless and based on zero trust, meaning it’s accessible to anyone willing to project physical power.
For humans and civilizations, power projection takes form in military capacities, such as the Navy to protect sea access and the Air Force for maintaining access to airspace. This projection of physical power ensures the preservation of zero trust and permissionless access to resources by physically constraining anyone who would attempt to remove or restrict access.
💡 TLDR: If you want to survive in any environment, it’s crucial to project power and minimize the benefit-to-cost ratio of attack. By imposing a physically prohibitive cost on potential attackers, you create an environment that optimizes self-preservation and security.
Nature and Physical Security
As you explore the world of physical security, it is crucial to recognize the role of power projection in society, as well as the impact of technologies like proof of work. In the wilderness, every organism, organization, or individual can be physically attacked. These attacks have a benefit, like obtaining honey from bees or hunting prey for food. To protect themselves, these organisms must create a cost of attack, such as the dangers of bee stings or a boar’s tusks.
Nature optimizes itself to reduce its vulnerability by imposing physical costs on attackers. By dividing the benefit of attacking something by the cost of attacking it, you get an effective return on investment, known as the benefit-to-cost ratio of attack. To achieve physical security, it is essential to minimize this ratio.
Physically secure systems can be witnessed throughout nature: predators that are effective hunters have evolved with sharp teeth and claws due to their successful ability to impose a high cost on their prey. Similarly, if you want to secure any resource, like territory, you need to impose a physical cost on those who would try to deny access to that resource.
Consider the way civilization works when it comes to securing resources. Whether it’s maintaining access to the sea, air, or space, militaries and specialized groups project physical power to impose prohibitive costs on belligerent actors. This optimization around physical power is what guarantees zero trust, permissionless access to these resources.
As civilization continues to expand its footprint in cyberspace, it is vital to take a similar approach to secure this digital domain by optimizing physical power and reducing the benefit-to-cost ratio of attack. Understand that this is the reality of the world; only by projecting power and lowering the benefit-to-cost ratio can we ensure secure and permissionless access to resources.
Implication of Security Costs on Attackers
In nature, organisms like animals with sharp teeth or powerful muscles optimize themselves to increase the cost of attacking them and, consequently, their survivability. This concept of power projection extends to organized groups like entire nation-states, as physical power directly contributes to the security of their resources and territories.
Military operations, for example, serve the purpose of securing physical domains like land, sea, and air. They impose a high physical cost on any attackers, ensuring that access to these territories remains safe and open for the respective nation. For instance, a strong navy guarantees secure access for a country to use the sea as a thoroughfare, deterring potential aggressors with the physical power of military force.
As civilization advances and expands into realms like cyberspace, ensuring security in these new territories becomes an ever-evolving challenge. Similar to the natural world and the military world, cyberspace also requires the projection of a robust physical force to prevent attacks and breaches. This parallels nature’s optimization of strength to decrease the benefit-to-cost ratio of attacking, leading to enhanced security.
Civilization’s Expansion into Cyberspace
As civilization expands into cyberspace, a similar need for security emerges. Just like with physical territory, resources, and other thoroughfares like air and space, maintaining zero trust, permissionless, and egalitarian access to cyberspace requires an approach rooted in power projection. This ensures the ability to navigate and utilize cyberspace without the constraint of malicious actors.
In the physical realm, humans have devoted resources to power projection through the establishment of military forces (e.g., Army, Navy, Air Force, and Space Force) to guard and secure access to resources and various domains. These forces have one key function: imposing a hefty cost on any hostile entity attempting to deny access to these resources and domains, thus lowering the benefit to cost ratio of an attack.
To ensure that a similar secure environment prevails in cyberspace, one must employ an equivalent approach focused on lowering the benefit-to-cost ratio for potential attackers. This is achieved by projecting power and enhancing the cost of launching an attack, which ultimately safeguards access to resources and thoroughfares within cyberspace.
While conducting power projection in cyberspace might look different than in the physical dimension, the core principles remain similar. By applying these principles, we can effectively secure cyberspace and preserve the zero trust and permissionless access to the digital realm that has become a critical component of modern civilization.
Bitcoin as a National Security Matter: Power Projection and Minimizing Attack Benefit-to-Cost Ratio
The power projection thesis posited by Jason P. Lowery in “Softwar” underscores Bitcoin as a novel form of physical power projection in cyberspace.
In a world where traditional kinetic warfare technologies have reached destructive peaks, Bitcoin emerges as a mechanism for nations to exert influence and protect their interests without resorting to destructive force.
It represents a form of power projection on an electrical level, where enhancing efficiency does not equate to increased destruction, offering a sustainable and non-destructive path for nations to assert their dominance and resolve disputes.
Minimizing Benefit-to-Cost Ratio of Attack
From a national security perspective, Bitcoin’s decentralized and cryptographic nature makes any attempt at cyber infiltration or attack exceedingly costly and complex. The Bitcoin network’s robust security protocols demand significant resources and expertise to breach, ensuring a low benefit-to-cost ratio for potential attackers. This characteristic makes Bitcoin the focal shelling point for enhancing national cybersecurity infrastructure.
By integrating Bitcoin into national security frameworks, countries can leverage its power projection capabilities to establish and maintain dominance in cyberspace, safeguarding their digital assets, infrastructure, and data from potential adversaries. The high cost and low likelihood of successful attacks on the Bitcoin network make it an unattractive target for adversaries, thereby enhancing national security and minimizing vulnerabilities in the digital domain.
Bitcoin stands as a pivotal national security asset, offering nations a non-destructive means of power projection and a robust defense against cyber threats, ensuring the integrity and security of national digital infrastructures and assets.
Imaginary Scenario: Nation A and Nation B
In this hypothetical scenario, Nation A has most of its assets stored in Bitcoin, while Nation B has its wealth primarily in physical assets. The world is on the brink of conflict, and the military strategies of nations are under scrutiny.
A hostile Nation C is assessing the benefit-to-cost ratio of launching military attacks on both Nation A and Nation B to seize their assets.
Nation A’s Strategic Advantage
- Asset Security: Nation A’s assets in Bitcoin are secured with cryptographic technology. The private keys needed to access these assets can be easily secured, making it nearly impossible for Nation C to seize these assets even with a successful military invasion. The private keys could be memorized by individuals, stored in secure digital vaults, or even transferred out of the country, ensuring the assets remain inaccessible to invaders.
- Low Benefit-to-Cost Ratio of Attack: The inability of Nation C to access Nation A’s Bitcoin assets even after a military victory makes the benefit-to-cost ratio of attacking Nation A extremely low. The high cost of military invasion, coupled with the minimal chance of seizing assets, deters Nation C from attacking Nation A.
Nation B’s Vulnerability
- Physical Asset Vulnerability: Nation B’s wealth is tied up in physical assets, making it highly vulnerable. A successful military attack by Nation C could easily result in the seizure of these tangible assets, providing immediate and substantial financial gain to the invaders.
- High Benefit-to-Cost Ratio of Attack: The potential for significant asset seizure makes the benefit-to-cost ratio of attacking Nation B high. Despite the costs involved in a military invasion, the tangible rewards in terms of seized assets make Nation B an attractive target for Nation C.
Assessing the scenarios, Nation C opts to attack Nation B, where the potential for asset seizure is high, providing immediate financial gain to fuel their military ambitions further.
Nation A, despite being equally wealthy in terms of asset value, is bypassed as a target due to the secure, intangible nature of its Bitcoin holdings, which Nation C cannot access.
In this hypothetical scenario, Nation A’s decision to hold its assets in Bitcoin significantly lowers the benefit-to-cost ratio of a military attack, providing a strategic advantage by deterring hostile actions.
In contrast, Nation B’s physical assets present a lucrative target, making it vulnerable to military aggression with a high benefit-to-cost ratio of attack. The scenario underscores the strategic military advantage of holding assets in secure, decentralized digital currencies like Bitcoin, which are resilient to seizure even in the event of military conflict.
This article is inspired by the following video by Jason Lowery:
Jean is a tech enthusiast with a love for AI and machine learning innovations, particularly LLMs. Beyond contributing insightful articles to our blog, Jean has worked as a Python, Rust, and Go coder for one of the leading tech firms in the world.