As we become increasingly dependent on technology, the more critical it becomes for the companies and services we depend on to secure against hacks and attacks. Decentralization promotes a higher standard of security. As a result, blockchain security applications are now becoming more prevalent.
For a company like Marriott Hotels, hitting the headlines because hackers managed to get hold of data from 500 million of your customers is very bad for brand reputation. Therefore, cybersecurity is big business, expected to grow from around $150 billion in 2018 to $250 billion within five years.
Decentralization offers many advantages from a cybersecurity perspective. With no single point of failure, it becomes more difficult for hackers to break into a system. Blockchain security benefits from having multiple witnesses to transactions, meaning bad actors would have to reach a critical mass to topple the network. Encryption works to secure digital assets.
Now, blockchain security applications are helping safeguard against multiple cyber-risks. These include viruses, DDoS attacks and even potentially replacing existing public key infrastructure. Here, we round up a few of the use cases and blockchain security projects around right now.
Blockchain Security Protecting Against DDoS Attacks
A denial of service (DoS) attack occurs when an attacker floods a computer or online resource with unnecessary requests, making it difficult or impossible for genuine users to gain access. A distributed DoS (DDoS) is when an attacker uses more than one IP address for the attack. A 2017 survey by Kapersky Labs reported that 23 percent of more than 5000 businesses said they had lost revenues and business opportunities as a direct result of a DDoS attack.
Internet of Things (IoT) technology exacerbates the problem, as devices are vulnerable to misuse of their IP addresses for malicious ends. A Deloitte report, produced in partnership with the Blockchain Institute, highlights how IoT devices connected as part of a decentralized P2P network could help defend against this kind of attacks.
Gladius is one blockchain security project seeking to use decentralized computing power as a means of protecting against DDoS attacks. The platform aggregates surplus bandwidth from corporations and individuals. This bandwidth can be directed to sites or services that are undergoing a DDoS attack. The extra bandwidth effectively keeps the doors open and renders the attack useless.
Blockchain Security Against Viruses
Viruses, trojans, worms, malware… as fast as antivirus software picks up on threats, the bad guys have developed new ones. As of 2017, 16 million US households had fallen prey to a virus problem within the last two years.
So, blockchain security is extending its reach to overcome the issues in the market for antivirus software. Two examples of projects using blockchain for virus protection are Polyswarm and OpenAVN. They work similarly that a project like Augur uses crowdsourced intelligence to generate predictions. Instead of collecting intelligence for predictions, they collect data and information about all kinds of online threats in real-time.
Crowdsourcing has the potential to provide a far more reactive level of protection than centralized antivirus software. Currently, if you’re using a program like Norton, you’d have to wait for the software company to become aware of the threat and incorporate the necessary protection into their program. Therefore, by crowdsourcing the threat data, a blockchain-based antivirus program can continually update itself in response to incoming information.
Upgraded Public Key Infrastructure
While most crypto enthusiasts understand what a public key is by now, public key infrastructure (PKI) is also in far more extensive use across the internet. The Wikipedia definition states that a PKI is “a set of roles, policies, and procedures needed to create, manage, distribute, use, store & revoke digital certificates and manage public-key encryption.”
A PKI is required for any activities where a simple password isn’t a sufficient authentication measure. It covers activities such as exchanging encrypted emails and messages, banking and finance or e-commerce. A certificate authority (CA) is responsible for issuing the certificates. While some in the industry have been exploring the potential of blockchain-based CAs, the technology offers even greater potential.
Guardtime is one of the biggest and most well-established blockchain companies. The company has developed an innovative blockchain security solution, called a Keyless Signature Infrastructure (KSI). The technology predates Bitcoin, initially using linked timestamps to develop a formally verifiable security proof. It was only later in 2017 that the KSI stack integrated distributed ledger technology.
The Estonian government opted for Guardtime’s KSI technology to control access to citizen’s health records. This is how the country became known as the “blockchain nation.” All Estonian citizens have their own digital ID, which they can use to access all government services.
Blockchain Security for Privacy
Given the risks involved with centralized services, privacy is now one of the hottest topics of the day. Various initiatives are now using blockchain security to assure privacy in personal data, files and documents and transactions.
Projects such as MaidSafe, Civic and Enigma are developing innovative solutions to ensure that our online lives are safeguarded. MaidSafe is a secure P2P filesharing network, while Civic focuses on self-sovereign digital identity. In contrast, Enigma is using secure multi-party computation to ensure that smart contract transactions remain confidential.
The examples provided here are just a few of the ways that blockchain could transform the face of cybersecurity. It’s also important to remember that the technology is still relatively young. In future years, it may well be that decentralized networks evolve to become the cornerstone of computing security.
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