IoT will cause serious damage in the future. What is the solution?
The Internet of Things is ruining everything, but mostly, it’s ruining the internet. Today, a massive list of websites including Reddit, Spotify, and Twitter crashed, hard, and stayed offline for much of the morning and afternoon after a massive Distributed Denial of Service attack overpowered Dyn, Inc., a major Domain Name System provider. DDoS attacks have been around for years, but thanks to the massive network of poorly-secured internet-capable devices (think everything from nanny-cams to Amazon Echo units), they just got so much worse.
DDoS attacks are extremely simple: you get a massive number of computers to request information from one source (like a website, or DNS that supplies multiple websites) at the same time. It’s the online equivalent of a huge-ass crowd at the DMV all screaming at once. If there aren’t enough attendants to cover the requests for service, the whole thing just shuts down and comes to a standstill.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. IoT will cause serious damage in the future. Most notably physical damage including threat to life. we are in a position to understand the necessity of a solution.
A unique solution that appears on the horizon is the blockchain.
It a model based on two essentials of ensuring a safe and secure means of direct authentication between smart devices, namely, transparency and permanence. It was developed as part of the Bitcoin digital currency platform.
Any industry can implement the bitcoin model for various applications. Through this scheme of things, blockchain can prove effective for the IoT industry. A blockchain can be created to resolve the issue of exposure of device identity to spoofers who can use the identity for malicious intents like theft and security breaches.
Blockchain can revolutionalize communication between two devices without the involving a third party intermediate. This most the operation of spooking more expensive and hence more unfeasible.
The blockchain lets users sync various devices against a single system of authority that is decentralized or distributed and resistant to censorship.
This fact is true for an open blockchain, not permissioned or private. A permanent record called identity chain is created. It allows access to only validated and verified devices by means of cryptography. New devices, as they are added become part of the blockchain.
Changes made in the devices’ configurations are properly recorded and verified. If any falsehood or unwanted change is encountered, it is ignored and the blockchain remains intact.
Of course, this technology will take some time to enter into the realms of everyday lives. Interactive testing by industries and governments will lead to that consequence. The future of this technology can only be decided and predicted after involvement of various stakeholders.
Industrial approval to this technology is needed to validate its usefulness and it is also crucial that various all IoT devices make use of this technology to extend its usefulness.
Every Internet of Things device manufacturer or software developer need not write data to the same blockchain. That is quite unnecessary. It could, instead, go to the next level and be an agreement between OEM manufacturers of essential components used in the authentication process flow.
Apart from baseline authentication, that is, the storage and verification of the device model, serial number, etc., the blockchain can generate records of any data it creates. A simple instance could be that of a smart door, where a video recording can be activated every time an access is made or requested from a remote point.
Every data item in the history generates a link of previous data item or histories in the identity chain which further helps in verification and rechecking processes. Applying this to the last example we can say that, if someone with malicious intent tried to access or change the configuration of the smart door to open it, the blockchain’s effective mechanism would prevent this unauthorized action and the safety would be ensured.
Blockchain’s effectiveness results from the fact that it is a public record, with user nodes auditing the same record. There are definitely concerns over sensitive data being in the public record. But, the blockchain achieves shielding against this by using one-way hashes. By the hash function, we mean a cryptographic mathematical algorithm that maps data and shortens its size to a bit string, which is also designed to be one-way and infeasible to invert. This implies that one can’t obtain the data of a hash function without using the source data.
Blockchain is a relatively new concept. To set its feet deeper into our lives and make an impact, it will require some time and effort by all stakeholders. Blockchain is established as a secure means of protecting financial data but it is flexible enough to be applied to any high-stakes record keeping. And the domain of Internet of Things is one great platform for any technology. Hence, it would be an interesting quest for the blockchain to find its place in the industry
Hitesh Malviya is the Founder of ItsBlockchain. He is one of the most early adopters of blockchain & cryptocurrency enthusiast in India. After being into space for a few years, he started IBC in 2016 to help other early adopters learn about the technology.
Before IBC, Hitesh has founded 4 companies in the cyber security & IT space.