Is Blockchain the future for cyber security?
14th December 2018
The IT industry has hailed Blockchain as a game changer in the development of ‘hyper-secure’ cyber security solutions for the future. What is Blockchain technology and why is this 10-year old transactions management system at the heart of a cyber security revolution?
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 to serve as the public transaction ledger of the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. It is a digital ledger software application in which transactions are recorded chronologically in a secure web environment. Blockchains are distributed networks with access from any number of users located in any part of the world. Every user can add information to the Blockchain, and cryptography is used to secure the data. Every other member of the network is responsible for verifying that the data added to the Blockchain. Encryption is delivered using a system of three keys (private, public, and receiver) that allow members to check the owner and veracity of the data.
Why is the data secure?
The use of encryption and verification by other users means that data stored in a large Blockchain network is significantly more difficult to steal by a cyber attacker. The technology is designed in such a way that there is no central authority or storage location. Every user on the network plays a part in storing some or all the Blockchain. Everyone is responsible for verifying the data that is stored and shared to make sure false data cannot be added and existing data cannot be removed.
The scalability and distribution of this tamper-proof technology have particularly caught the attention of software firms who provide cyber security solutions to financial services, healthcare and manufacturing industries. Deloitte confirmed that $1 billion was invested in Blockchain in 2016 by financial services and technology firms globally, and this number is expected to rise exponentially throughout the next five years.
Can Blockchain be hacked?
To corrupt a Blockchain, the hacker would have to destroy the data stored on every user’s computer in the global network. This network could be millions of computers, with each one saving a copy of some or all the data. Unless the hacker could simultaneously bring down an entire network, undamaged computers would continually run to verify and keep a record of all the data on the system.
Caution and slow adoption
For more than eight years, cryptocurrencies built on Blockchain have withstood cyber attack, While Blockchain has a good track record of securing cryptocurrencies, many experienced cyber security consultants are advising caution. Every software application can be hacked, and it is only a matter of time before the announcement of a cyber breach. Larger enterprises have been slow to adopt Blockchain solutions as they potentially provide a single-point of risk for their confidential information.
On public Blockchains, anyone can view the activity, though not necessarily the data which is secured. When storing critical information, it is essential to implement an authentication system and additional encryption on top of the Blockchain to ensure the data remains private.
Blockchain cyber security solutions
Businesses can authenticate devices and users without the need for a password with the help of Blockchain technology. Human intervention is eliminated from the process of authentication, thereby avoiding it from becoming a potential attack vector. REMME Capital is using Blockchains to remove the need for passwords. By assigning each device a unique SSL certificate managed by Blockchain, fake certificates cannot be used. Hackers have no centralised servers or weak points to exploit. The platform also requires two-factor authentication for the highest level of security.
Blockchain is also being used to prevent DDoS attacks. DNS is decentralised by distributing the contents to many nodes and making it nearly impossible for hackers to attack. Domain editing rights are granted to those who need them, and no other user can make changes, significantly reducing the risk of data being accessed or changed by hackers. Blockstack provide such a solution and aspire to make the entire worldwide web decentralised by removing all third-parties from managing web servers, ID systems, and databases.
Secure compliance in the future
Highly-regulated industries such as healthcare see Blockchain as a key agent to ensure verified, trustworthy and proof-of-process compliance. Private Blockchains not only ensure organisations are securing their patient, and customer data, but also that business processes are being followed.
Deloitte also confirmed that “The technology’s audit capability provides organisations with a level of transparency and security over every interaction. From a cyber security perspective, this provides entities with an extra level of reassurance that the data is authentic and has not been tampered with.”