Ethernet networking technology is flawed, say some engineers. The problem is it doesn\u2019t have any inherent security built in to it. Ethernet also hard to manage because it's centralized. It\u2019s out-of-date, and it needs revamping, researchers say.\nOne attempt to address the issue is the Marconi protocol, which is a strategy to shift network and packet management over to a smart-contract, decentralized chain-based system. Smart contracts are trackable, verifiable transactions. They\u2019re performed through encrypted blockchains and are self-enforcing.\nNetworking at the data-link level, not just simply the digital traffic and transactions, could be managed by infrastructure-level blockchain, say the folks behind the new protocol. Traffic auditing within network routing could be one of the main uses. Other benefits might be a trickle-down to security in the voids between clouds, addressing the issue of gaps that are common with a disparate cloud mix. If successful, delicately configured security in routers and switches will become redundant.\n\u201cEthernet has no encryption built into its design,\u201d says the Marconi Foundation in its white paper introducing the ideas. \u201cThis exposes raw network packets.\u201d\n\nThe foundation says this data-link visibility doesn\u2019t make any sense when much of the internet is now all about privacy and transactional security. \u201cNetwork security protocols operate at several layers higher up the stack, while Ethernet remains insecure,\u201d it says.\nAnother thing that\u2019s not adding up, the group points out in the paper, is that all blockchain development projects (of which they say there are 1,900 in a $200 billion blockchain ecosystem) are strangely running on insecure Ethernet. The whizz-bang \u201cdecentralized future\u201d is actually running on an insecure layer. That\u2019s another reason to update to a smart contract-run network stack. The researchers believe that packet-level encryption would be more secure than existing SSL and TLS.\nHow smart packets would protect the network\nThe group says the way to handle the shift is to introduce decentralized apps that would have access to the network packets. The apps then run the network and perform the security roles, thus eliminating hardware, which they point out is expensive and needs continual tweaking.\nSmart Packet Contracts would protect the network from intrusions and so on, and a \u201cMarconi Pipe\u201d would be the channel. It provides the routing and processing. While it\u2019s actually at the data-link OSI Layer 2 (switches, bridges in terms of hardware; and MAC and Ethernet in terms of protocols), it can also overlay on other infrastructure, such as wireless. A barter system, where network resources can be traded for compute resources, say, rounds out the concept. Monitization could indeed be introduced.\nAnother angle is securing the multiple cloud-based systems running in enterprise. It\u2019s a \u201cchallenge to make sure [multi-cloud] communication is secure and safe from attacks such as eavesdropping or \u2018man in the middle,'"\u00a0Jong Kim, chief architect of Marconi Foundation and Network World contributor, said in a VentureBeat article in January. \u201cA common network where each connection point securely peers with every other point, regardless of cloud provider or container instance\u201d could be provided with an Ethernet-layer blockchain.\nNetwork administration and security apps, as well as dynamic networks where network activity needs to be recorded in a ledger for review \u2014 say in a disaster scenario or battlefield, could also be areas to explore, the Marconi Foundation suggests.