Bank of America's newest blockchain-related patent, a "system for managing security and access to resource sub-components" (USPTO patent #9979718), offers a novel solution to managing resources associated with security and access to subcomponents – namely, individual blocks – of a decentralized blockchain network.
In order to provide a "designated entity" with access to resources particular to a specific block, Bank of America's new invention employs a cryptographically generated "security token" as a type of digital key, configured to allow users access. Once predesignated, or whitelisted, they can use a blockchain whose access is sorted and regulated through three access controls: specific digital keyword tags, a cryptographic key in the form of a token, and a time window.
The patent suggests that applying digital tags to blocks for reference purposes – searchable via "keywords associated with the tag[s]" – is a novel approach to designating specific blocks. This solution specifically addresses the need to provide users with the "ability to readily identify blocks that are relevant to the designated users' concern."
Bank of America further notes that this system – in at least one possible iteration – will be automated, although "alternatively, in other embodiments of the invention, a block holder or the like may manually request generation of a tag(s) and define the attributes associated with the tag."
Security "Lock" Opens with a Token
Once the block and/or resources sought by a designated user have been located, the system offers its "security token" as a key that allows the user access to the block they've identified. This security feature "assure[s] that the designated entities/user that are accessing the blocks are, in fact, authorized users."
Timing Is Everything
Interestingly, time is used as an additional security feature in this particular patent, limiting access to specific instances at a particular time to a particular user.
Although the patent landscape as it pertains to blockchain technology is constantly evolving alongside the technology itself, Bank of America has historically been a leader in securing patents across a breadth of financial services use cases.
Like a movie studio buying up comic book rights, Bank of America, which must compete with other prominent international banks, will likely continue to patent as many possible inventions as it can in the hopes that something it discovers today … might be useful tomorrow.