Cyber Wars! A Blockchain Use Case to Protect Your Data

“The number of high-profile breaches and attacks making headlines has led business leaders to finally take cybersecurity seriously.”—Sam Olyaei

There are numerous stories and articles on threats to a company’s database. Cyber threats are as numerous as there are hackers who can think of a way to hack.  Cyberjackers breech computers regardless of  size to mine cryptocurrency. More companies and organizations “are beginning to evaluate the intricacies of the security controls” to (Alison DeNisco-Rayome) to protect against breeches from geopolitical threats from Russia, China, North Korea, or Iran.

Maryville University highlighted cyber security threats to should be aware of and to set up controls to mitigate any data breech. Whether you are an individual entrepreneur or a large multinational conglomerate, this is for you.

Unprecedented Attacks

Data usage has grown exponentially over the years.  The amount of data that exists on multiple data sources continues to grow. From large data sets on local servers, to data storage on terabyte drives and the countless servers in data farms all lend itself to being attacked by hackers. More and more, organizations, regardless of size, are now storing data in the cloud.

Maryville notes that the “Internet of Things (IoT), borne of all these devices, has lent itself well to creating an unprecedented attack surface security professionals never had to deal with in the past”. Unfortunately, data theft and cyberattacks doesn’t just come from external source—bad actors are found internally as well.

Whether the attacks are private, public or a hybrid of cloud technologies—trade secrets, intellectual property, and valuable customer data are at risk of being stolen or manipulated. We tend to think of large organization as the targets of f cyberattacks. However, Maryville writes that “small and midsize businesses are not just targets of cybercrime, they are its principal target. In fact, the majority of all targeted cyberattacks last year were directed at small and midsize businesses.”   (Maryville)

Consequently business owners must have a security plans in place. It’s mission critical for business owners, of any size and any storage system—“to be aware best practices and regulations surrounding sensitive data”. Setting the cloud up securely is important, and monitoring it is key.  (Maryville)

Blockchain

“Blockchain has the potential to improve encryption and authentication, and that could be good news for IoT security and DDoS protection.” (Computer World)

As a decentralized, distributed ledger technology, Blockchain offers the promise being absolutely secure. We can trust the systems, and indeed, it’s been a trusted technology using cryptography. All transactions are recorded with a time-stamp and linked to the previous one.

Because the digital ‘blocks’ are distributed, and shared with users—they can only be updated through the consensus of all participants—whether private or public. Therefore data interception, modification and deletion is nearly impossible. Built on this technical framework, there are now a number of use cases that help to protect all of your data.

Safety features of Blockchain

Doug Drinkwater looks at blockchain use cases that can be applied to ensure data security.

Firstly, it has the ability to improve confidentiality and data integrity. While blockchain was originally created to be publically distributed—blockchain applications have enabled complete encryption of blockchain data. This will ensure that critical or other data will only be made available, or accessible to authorized users. This reduces the chance for “any man-in-the-middle attacks”. The data integrity extends to IoT and IIoT devices.

A second area where one can improve data security, is to secure private messaging. Private messaging is an area that needs to be protected. CEOs and business leaders need to be assured that any sensitive corporate secretes will be transmitted without being hacked.

Drinkwater adds that startups, such as Obsidian, use blockchain to secure private data transmitted in chats, messaging apps or in and social media. Obsidian’s messenger system uses blockchain to secure the user’s metadata. The “metadata is randomly distributed throughout a ledger and thus will not be available for gathering in one single point,” where it has a likelihood of being compromised.

Image Source: jasstek.com

Boosting or even replacing public key infrastructure, is another strategy the company can add to improve their data protection.  Blockchain has the promise to protect email and other messaging applications. Presently, email, messaging applications, and other communication apps use public key cryptography; that is, public key infrastructure to secure email and messaging applications.

However, most implementation rely on third-party certificate authority to issue “key pairs”, vulnerable to bad actors who target the key pairs and compromise encrypted communications and spoof identities. Thus, when you publish keys on a blockchain, you will, theoretically, “eliminate the risk of false key propagation and enable applications to verify the identity of the people you are communicating with.”

One area of cyber-attacks an organization should be diligent to protect against is the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Drinkwater reports that the startup Gladius—claims that its blockchain “decentralized ledger system helps to protect from distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.” Their use case example is touted to be able to protect against such attacks by “allowing you to connect to protection pools near you to provide better protection and accelerate your content.”

Conclusion

For most organization, data is gold. It is an asset that the organization depends on and lives on—on a daily basis. Data contains trade secrets, organization plans, and customer data, all of which needs to be protected.

While most organizations use some protection such as antivirus and VPN software, it may no longer be sufficient. Blockchain, with its high level of security and distributed ledgers may well be an answer. In the end, business will do well to remember that blockchain security is not a panacea. But, it is a way to add to your overall security plan.


Sources

Drinkwater, Doug, “6 use cases for blockchain in security”, Computer World, February, 2018

Maryville, “Three Cyber Security Issues Organizations Face”,  Maryville University, August 201

 

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