Tech

Steve Kaaru

Blockchain and cybersecurity: How the two are a perfect match

Cybersecurity is playing a crucial role, particularly in today’s modern era when access to data is more profitable than ever. And while data has become more integrated into our lives, cybercrime is also more rampant than ever. The statistics are quite shocking, with studies revealing that there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds, with the hackers stealing 75 records every second. Cybercrime is also quite profitable, raking in $600 billion in 2018.

With the hackers being intent on infiltrating systems globally, the need for a better security system has never been greater. To date, several solutions have been tried out, with varying levels of effectiveness. Then came blockchain technology.

Blockchain is impacting the cybersecurity industry in several ways. They include:

Decentralizing data storage

Imagine if you took all the money you own, the jewelry and all the other valuables and then kept them in a box under your bed. Would you be surprised if a burglar broke into your house and made off with everything you own? Probably not.

This is exactly what most of the service providers you use do with the user data. They store the data of their millions of users, sometimes more, in a centralized server. And while these companies put in place security measures to protect your data, cybercriminals get better at their ways and eventually, they get access to the data. Remember Equifax?

Decentralized data storage can get rid of this vulnerability. In a decentralized system, the data is stored by several nodes, without one single point of failure. This makes it nearly impossible for the hackers to access your data. Blockchain startups catering to this need have sprung up in their numbers, including WeatherSV which stores climate data on the blockchain.

Offering more secure DNS

The domain name system is the system that matches IP addresses to websites, enabling the Internet surfer to access their favorite sites. DNS has been touted as decentralized, but it’s only partially so. Hackers can be able to intercept the connection between the IP address and the website and then manipulate it in whatever way they please.

The hackers can crash websites or even redirect the surfers to scam websites of their choice. They have also been known to link DNS attacks to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, taking out a website for days, sometimes even longer.

Due to its decentralized nature, blockchain technology denies the criminals the opportunity to find a single point of weakness, thwarting DNS attacks. Some of the startups tackling this challenge using blockchain technology are Handshake and Namecoin.

Combating DDoS attacks

Distributed denial of service attacks have become worryingly common, and while they used to target the smaller companies, the hackers have become bold enough to target global giants like Twitter and Spotify. These attacks direct a ludicrous amount of traffic to a site, overwhelming its servers and leading to a crash.

Blockchain technology can help combat these attacks. For one, systems that are built on the blockchain are decentralized and as such, they are more difficult to target. Moreover, blockchain technology facilitates the sharing economy, enabling regular people to share their extra bandwidth with companies. This bandwidth can then be used to give the sites under attack extra armor.

One solution that is helping tackle this challenge is UptimeSV, a platform that provides enterprises with crowdsourced network intelligence and helps them to know when their websites are offline. The platform’s distributed performance helps enterprises respond in time to DDoS attacks and thus thwart them before they bring down their entire online presence.  

Improving IoT security

We live in the era of smart devices where your phone, your car, your coffee maker, security system and baby monitor can all be interconnected and share data between them. The Internet of Things (IoT) has made life remarkably convenient. However, IoT devices also provide hackers with a whole new attack dimension. This is especially because many companies that make and install IoT devices are not stringent enough about their security.

IoT attacks are especially dangerous as the attack on one device can open the door for subsequent attacks on all the other interconnected devices.

Blockchain technology can solve this challenge in a number of ways. By decentralizing the authority, blockchain lets the devices communicate effectively and with time, get to learn the accepted commands. Any command by a hacker that’s considered out of the norm can be ignored and the affected device flagged. Blockchain also allows for the elimination of the third-parties and the central authorities, reducing the vulnerable points that hackers can exploit.

Introducing digital identities

For the longest time, we’ve had to rely on the username-password combination to access our online accounts. This method has become easier over time for hackers to infiltrate. What makes it worse is that most of us aren’t creative enough to have separate passwords for our different accounts so we end up using the same password for all our accounts.

Blockchain technology is getting rid of the username-password model by introducing decentralized digital identities. It allows you to own your identity with no involvement of third parties. You can then choose to share your identity with service providers to gain access to your accounts. Since the identity is stored in a decentralized ledger, the hackers can’t access it.

There have been quite a number of solutions developed to tackle this, with Legally Chained being a standout. The platform allows you to create an on-chain private identity and grant access to services while retaining your privacy.

Verifying software downloads

Hackers are aware that a huge majority of us are clueless on how to verify the genuine software in a market that’s crowded with several software providers. They thus develop clones of legitimate software and lace it with malware. Other hackers just corrupt the legitimate software itself with malware. For non-programmers, it’s almost impossible to tell when software contains malware.

This can be solved by blockchain technology. Software vendors can assign a unique hash to their genuine software and once a user downloads it, they can compare the hash on the download to the original hash. This would allow a user to steer clear of malware which is usually disguised as genuine software.

Securing private messaging

Every day, hundreds of billions of messages are sent through thousands of platforms. A good percentage of these messages are commercial or contain sensitive information. This information must be protected at all costs as any leaks could result in damages, financial or otherwise.

While most messaging platforms use end-to-end encryption, this is still not enough to keep your data safe. Blockchain technology provides secure communication in a way no other technology does, ensuring that your messages are private, just like you want them to be.

Baemail is one of the solutions that’s out to ensure that you can send messages that are recorded on the blockchain. Unlike with the conventional messaging and email services, the platform assures you of private messaging by using Paymail addresses, ensuring that only the sending and receiving Paymail addresses can decrypt the message.

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