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How to Secure the Internet of Things (IoT) with Blockchain

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What is the Internet of Things?

Simply put, the Internet of Things is a network where a multitude of devices (smartphones, smart TVs, and other forms of technology). Anything you can think of that can be connected online, or uses electricity; chances are it can be apart of an IoT network. It’s a large network consisting of “things” and people. The relationships are between things-things, people-things, and people-people.

However, the IoT system has a few flaws behind it. Current IoT systems rely on centralized and traditional communication models. This is also called the client/server paradigm. Each device on IoT is authenticated, identified, and connected through a group of cloud servers with huge storage and processing capacities. The connection between the devices goes through the internet from ranges as small as two feet away.

While this method has connected basic computing devices and will continue to support smaller IoT networks, it’s unable to fit the growing demands of having a larger IoT network for tomorrow. This means that the Internet of Things currently has a problem of expansion, making it more likely to be subjected to hacks and data breaches. While there are secure iot devices, they need an extra layer of protection. And that blockchain is that protective layer that allows IoT to expand its network and encrypt the data that goes through it.

How to Decentralize an IoT Network?

Creating a decentralized approach for IoT is a great way to solve most of the questions above. Creating a standard peer-to-peer model to make secure IoT deployments and communicate with the devices in the network. In fact, infusing blockchain with IoT makes it easier to process transactions between multiple devices. It will also reduce the cost of maintaining and installing large data centers and distributes storage and computation needs for the billions of devices that are in IoT networks.

Doing so prevents the failure of any single node in a network from destroying the entire system. However, creating a peer-to-peer system presents its own set of challenges; especially security. The solution to the current IoT issues will need to maintain security and privacy on huge IoT networks and then offer some consensus and validation in order to protect it from theft and spoofing.

To perform like a proper IoT network without facing the issues of centralization, a decentralized approach needs to follow the following fundamentals:

  • Distributed File Sharing
  • Peer-to-peer messaging
  • Autonomous device coordination

The Blockchain Approach

The blockchain is the “distributed ledger” technology that powers Bitcoin. It has gained an increase of interest within the tech and crypto community. Blockchain technology helps users record digital interactions or interactions in a way that’s secure, resistant to outages, efficient, and auditable; it gives the opportunity to disrupt centralized business models and traditional systems that have been proven incorrect.

Technology is young and is changing at a rapid pace. Creating a widespread commercialized platform is still a few years off. To avoid missed opportunities, or disruptive surprises, planners, strategists, and decision makers in different business functions and industries should pay attention now and investigate the current applications of technology.

Read also: How To Create Your Own Cryptocurrency?

What is Blockchain?

IoT cybersecurity requires blockchain technology in order to remain fully decentralized. The blockchain is a database that has a constantly growing set of records. This makes it, so no central computer has complete control over the entire chain. The nodes participating have a copy of the original chain. It continues to grow – and the data records are always added to the chain.

Blockchains consist of two of these main elements:

  1. Blocks that record transactions and makes sure they have not been tampered with and stay inside the correct sequence. Blocks also create a timestamp to show when the transactions took place within the system.
  2. Transactions are made by the system participants.

Two Types of Blockchain

Blockchain has both a private and public version of its platform. In public blockchains, everyone that participates in it can write and read data. Some of the public blockchains only allow user access to just writing or reading. For example, Bitcoin’s system allows for anyone to write. In private blockchains, all members involved in the network are trusted. This is a useful model if two different companies have the same mother entity.

What are some of Blockchain’s Advantages?

First, blockchain is public. Everyone that uses it can see the transactions and the blocks stored in them. But this doesn’t mean that others can see the content that’s placed on your transaction. That information is protected by your private key. For your safety, make sure that you have your private key written down somewhere that only you know. So if all of your data is lost, you can retrieve it and continue holding your cryptocurrency and devices in one place.

Second, it’s decentralized. This means that iot security with blockchain can be accessed by the user in any location. There are no specific rules that need to be in place in order to accept transactions. Why is this possible? Because there is a lot of trusts involved since every participant have to come to a consensus before a transaction is accepted.

Blockchain and IoT

When users want to secure the internet of things with blockchain, there’s a lot of advantages when infusing both together. Blockchain provides the missing link to fix privacy, reliability, and scalability concerns that occur within the Internet of Things. You can use blockchain technology to connect billions of secure IoT devices, coordination between devices and enables transaction processing. This system provides large savings for IoT manufacturers and creates a stronger ecosystem for devices to connect and operate on.

Secure iot with blockchain uses cryptographic algorithms which are used increase the privacy of consumer data. The ledger can’t be manipulated hackers and is tamper proof. This is because it isn’t doesn’t remain in one location, and because the man in the middle attacks can’t be staged. Why? Because there isn’t one piece of communication that holds the entire network. Blockchain makes peer-to-peer messaging simple and has shown its worth to financial services through the use of Bitcoin.

The autonomous, decentralized and trustless capabilities of blockchain make it a necessary component to becoming the main element of IoT solutions. It isn’t a surprise that IoT technologies have become first time adopters of innovative blockchain technologies. Blockchain can hold a long record of smart devices. With this feature, they have registered autonomously without needing centralized or traditional layers of authority. As a result, blockchain creates an opportunity for a multitude of IoT scenarios that are hard to implement without it.

Through using blockchain as leverage, you can create a secure and trustless messaging system between devices on the IoT network. In this particular model, blockchain treats the device’s different messages the same way they would handle a financial transaction within a Bitcoin network. In order to let messages go through exchanges, the devices leverage the smart contracts the help create an agreement between both sides.

IoT Statistics

[Figure 1: IoT Market Growth]

In this figure, we can see that the Internet of Things has gained a lot of market share since its first launch. First, it went from $3.03 billion to 4.88 billion dollars during 2013 to 2015. We can expect it to become a large number such as $25.01 billion dollars! This means that the value of IoT will skyrocket due to its ability to use blockchain to expand and secure its initial platform. We can predict that the automotive, business and the consumer industry will have a higher demand for IoT related products within the upcoming years. Based on the graph, it’s safe to say that IoT will become a mainstream application by 2020.

Due to the statistics alone, we know that IoT is a trending topic. This is because of the value it brings, and the ability to connect multiple devices without having to worry about them being disconnected. And once you infuse it with blockchain, you’ll have a powerful network that will be safe for the long term.

Conclusion

One of the biggest reasons why people use blockchain for IoT security is because of its enhanced protection. Not only does it encrypt your data and keeps it safe, but it also allows you to secure all of your devices from any third parties or attacks. To make your IoT network work with blockchain, you’ll have to be diligent, responsive, and ready to make updates as needed.

Also, blockchain security is still in its developing levels, and there aren’t any real implementations that have reached the market yet. But, if the discussion of IoT and security can be accurate around one thing, the Internet of Things brings a new set of security issues that will need a new way of thinking and methods to solve its problems. As time progresses, IoT will grow with blockchain, and both will be used to make our current industries perform better and stay protected. Conclusively, take time with learning blockchain and IoT and use them to your advantage!

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Henry Hillford

Henry Hillford

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