Cyber security is a growing concern among individual users and enterprises these days. State-sponsored hacking attempts are becoming more common, and there seems to be no improvement in sight. Blockchain technology could alleviate a lot of concerns, due to its decentralized and distributed nature.
Mainly the financial system seems vulnerable to these types of cyber attacks. Iranian hackers attacked dozens of banks between 2011 and 2013. In doing so, they interfered with customers’ ability to access their funds and balances. Web sites were shut down or severely crippled in the process as well.
Modernization Has Its Drawbacks
But what makes these threats even more disconcerting is how hackers seem to gain access to critical systems repeatedly. A lot of control systems are connected to the Internet, even though there is not always a good reason for that. Moreover, given the outdated nature of those systems, there are multiple attack vectors hackers could exploit.
Online breaches go much further than e-commerce platforms being affected. Our society has come to rely on computer-driven systems and fail safes. But not all of these devices are safe from harm, especially not the ones connected to the Internet. If hackers were to do physical harm through an online hack, chaos would ensue. For example, shutting down the power grid of an entire US city, or gaining control of water filtration systems are just two of the possible concerns.
In fact, it would not be the first time hackers gain control of a power grid. A similar incident happened in Ukraine on December 23, 2015. Over 100 cities suffered from a blackout as hackers breached the electricity grid’s cyber security defense system. By using destructive malware, computers and control systems were damaged, and it took some time to repair.
Blockchain-Based Cyber Security
On paper, there is nothing wrong with modernizing the infrastructure for various resources. However, with inadequate cyber security protection in place, there is no point in doing so. If safety and integrity of these systems cannot be guaranteed, they should not be connected to the Internet.
One thing nearly all of these systems have in common is their centralized aspect. In most cases, there is one central control system, which is hosted on one computer, or a set of computers in one place. There is no failover in place if something were to go wrong, either through computer failure or a hacking attempt.
Decentralization of these command systems is the right way forward. This is where blockchain-based solutions can play a big role, due to their distributed nature. Records can be kept on various computers and servers around the world, removing the central point of failure from the equation.
A similar approach can be taken when it comes to more complex systems. Using a blockchain-based communication system to distribute workloads is just one example. A different type of cyber security would be to integrate a consensus mechanism for these control systems. Achieving that consensus would require control of over half of the network, which would be nearly impossible to pull off by hackers. Decentralization and distribution are critical elements for future cyber security developments.
What are your thoughts on the role of blockchain in cyber security? Let us know in the comments below!
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