If blockchain technology can do as much for cybersecurity as it has done for finance, the web may soon be a much safer place.
The US Senate certainly thinks it has potential; this month it passed a $7 billion defence bill requesting a report on blockchain applications for the cybersecurity industry. Global security and aerospace company Lockheed Martin is also so confident in the technology it has already added blockchain cybersecurity to its services.
Yet, considering the blockchain’s roots, this shift is hardly surprising. Although it first gained notoriety as the emerging technology powering bitcoin, the tool is built on cryptographic innovation. Designed to record digital events with encrypted, verified and fixed entries, it’s an innately safe data-sharing tool, which means its uses extend beyond just payments. So how will the blockchain redefine cybersecurity? Here are the top three implementations:
So how will blockchain technology redefine cybersecurity? Here are the top three implementations:
Holding off hackers
As both business and daily life is increasingly conducted online, cyber attacks have become a regular hazard; it’s estimated in 2016 alone there were 3.1 billion data breaches. Of course, the mode of such hacks is varied; cybercriminals may embed malware in email attachments, pose as customer support to obtain user log in details, spoof employee identities, and so on. But the basis of their strategy is often similar: exploiting weak points in centralised systems.
This is where blockchain technology comes in. By storing and sharing information via distributed records, businesses can ensure there is no single gateway through which hackers could steal data. Indeed, this principle can be applied to safeguard vital external infrastructure too, such as domain name services (DNS) for company websites. As shown by the attack that took down major brands like Twitter and Spotify last year, current DNS practice of keeping the access key on one server — and relying on caching — can leave services vulnerable. A blockchain-based server, however, can minimise the risk: creating a wider network of keys and splitting control of domain records between multiple parties to make websites impenetrable.
Making data tamper-proof
Theft isn’t the only focus for today’s cybercriminals. With data now an essential resource for decision-making, investment, and analysis, cybercriminals are also attempting to undermine businesses through information sabotage; be that by altering information and demanding a ransom for its restoration, or entering fake data to cause system failure. Yet, once more, this is a cybersecurity problem that can be effectively addressed by blockchain technology.
Information, after all, is not only decentralised; it is also sequentially hashed and encrypted. So, it is almost impossible for intruders to either gain access to databases or make sense of information. In other words, with blockchain, hackers’ chances of unilaterally making changes to important data stores are slim to none and data integrity remains intact.
Keeping messaging private
Last but not least consider instant messaging tools, such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. These services may be getting smarter thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI) — with assistants like Facebook M offering in-app support — but there are still weak points in terms of security. WhatsApp, for instance, uses end-to-end encryption to protect message content, but also collects metadata (information about who users contact), and most services require personal authentication details, such as an email address. With such information frequently stored in single systems, there is a significant risk it could be accessed by hackers.
To solve this problem, budding companies are drawing on blockchain to shield users. Start-up businesses such as Obsidian messenger, for instance, are keeping data private and protecting users by decentralising the network itself and dividing up metadata — thereby making sure it can’t be gathered in one place and used to survey or hack individual accounts.While it’s true many of these blockchain applications are still works in progress, they do offer a potent sign of what lies ahead. As the cybersecurity sector strives for greater efficiency and less human error, demand for independent and immutable networks will rise — and so will
While it’s true many of these blockchain applications are still works in progress, they do offer a potent sign of what lies ahead. As the cybersecurity sector strives for greater efficiency and less human error, demand for independent and immutable networks will rise — and so will use of emerging technologies that leave no room for discrepancies or breaches, like blockchain.
By Catherine Luff, Content Manager