Computer security and Blockchain are concepts that resonate very often. The most known field where they converge is probably in the digital currency (Bitcoin, Ethereum, …). However, Blockchain applications have the potential to provide robustness to a more conventional and closer computing. This article aims to review the technologies, scope, and applications in which it can be most useful.
Before starting, we highly recommend reading “Blockchain 101: What It Is And What It Is Not” and “Blockchain in IoT: Risks of macrotools in microdevices” to provide context.
Security in computational infrastructure
A DNS server, in a few words, is the one that translates the address that we write in the search bar of the browser to the physical address to which we access. The process in which the correct translation of the address is interrupted in some way, by distancing the user from the legitimate website to which he intends to access, is called DNS hijacking.
In this situation, a Blockchain-based form could be proposed to store the address with the physical address in an unequivocal way, taking into account the Blockchain immutability principle. In this way, the possible fraudulent changes that would occur in a DNS server would be easily identifiable.
Secure distributed storage.
Blockchain maintains distributed, replicated and persistent information. This allows its usability to function as a storage system, being able to replace services like Dropbox or Google Drive.
Its operation would be similar to the one of a P2P network, where a copy is stored in all nodes of the network. With the ability to see the history of transactions, a previous state of the file could be consulted, providing the necessary flexibility to navigate between versions.
For the use of digital transactions, the signing of documents and other official procedures, it would allow the user to be unequivocally and remotely identified in a secure manner so that operations that currently require physical presence could be carried out.
This form of identity can go with us wherever we go, so it can facilitate habitual procedures related to identification, being a perfect substitute for the passport.
Protection against digital crime.
On many occasions, it is common to hear that Blockchain is the means of criminals to hide or launder capital. However, leaving aside the cryptocurrencies, Blockchain allows tracking the information and its alterations, making it possible to detect anomalous behaviors in the face of a possible impersonation.
Blockchain in IoT
The contribution of Blockchain in computer security is well-known. Nevertheless, this technology can have special relevance in a current that is arriving with force, the Industry 4.0.
The transactions that are constantly carried out in an Internet of Things deployment do not allow to use traditional techniques of information sharing that guarantee security in all areas. It is necessary to look for other more flexible ways that maintain the security and integrity of the data.
Blockchain has a decentralized structure, which guarantees the integrity of the data through a network without trust, which is an ideal quality taking into account that the devices will not always be connected in a standard way.
The structure of Blockchain establishes that each node has the same weight in the voting (this can vary depending on the implementation), being essential that the network where it is integrated remains distributed, improving the security the broader it is.
Transaction history is stored completely on all devices or maybe a summarized version on those that have less storage capacity. So, making it possible to recover the value of data at any moment of time, and this data to be corroborated by most devices. This quality provides the ability for autonomous nodes operation without the need for a concentrator to centralize transactions, which is important in itself for error-proof operation and with the potential to lower the costs of a concentrator implementation.
The fact that the Blockchain implementation does not make it necessary to change the sensor network on which it is deployed, makes its implementation easier and less expensive.
It is important to point out one of the most important capabilities that Blockchain provides: the possibility to integrate Smart Contracts, actions that are carried out when certain established conditions are met. This allows us to give intelligence to the devices so that they can react to certain stimuli, significantly increasing their versatility.
As we see, Blockchain has the ability to improve the current state of many situations where security is an important part. Hopefully, we will not miss the many qualities of this technology dedicated exclusively to the ICOs.
Article written by Javier Sanz, Firmware and Blockchain Developer at Barbara IoT.
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