Every 32 seconds, someone is attacked by a cybercriminal online. Unfortunately, with the inefficiency of traditional cybersecurity methods, many are defenseless against these digital intrusions. That’s why some experts are turning to cutting-edge technological advancements like the blockchain. Blockchain technology offers an innovative approach to cybersecurity and can prevent cyberattacks, identity theft, and harmful data breaches.
But, what exactly is the blockchain? Let’s take a look at the basics of this technology and the fundamentals of its security capabilities.
Blockchain Technology Basics
When you connect to a traditional network or server, you are utilizing a centralized system to send and receive data. However, when that transaction occurs across a peer-to-peer network, that means that the system you are using is decentralized. The blockchain is an example of a decentralized network, within which transactions are grouped and recorded in blocks that are then organized into chains. The information within these blocks is unchangeable and considered incredibly secure.
Blockchain network architecture generally falls into one of three categories. These categories include:
- Private Architecture Requiring Permission For Access
The most private and secure network architecture type, these are only accessible to a closed community group. Bank blockchains, like BankChain, are usually designed with this type of system.
- Public Architecture Requiring Permission For Access
Featuring public architecture instead of private, these networks only allow trusted community members to access their blockchain. Global payment blockchains like Ripple generally use this system.
- Public Architecture That Requires No Permission For Access
While the architecture is similar to the previous type, these do not require permission for access. The most famous example of this type would be Bitcoin.
No matter what architecture and level of accessibility a network has, every blockchain contains unalterable information. The distributive database, time-stamp system, and complex block linking mean that alterations can not be made to published data after the fact. This feature has obvious security benefits and creates the foundation for blockchain security.
Blockchain Security Fundamentals
Because of the decentralized nature of a cryptographic ledger, cyberattacks have a much more difficult time breaching and exposing information. Blockchain security relies on three central tenets to ensure user safety: Node Availability, User Anonymity, and Cryptographic Data Preservation.
➢Node Availability: Nodes are a system component that retains, moves, and preserves data within a blockchain. They help provide a framework for the network and exist in significant numbers within any distributed system. Each one of these nodes contains an identical ledger copy, making the network more resilient to cyber-attacks. If a node is compromised and unavailable, users still have the ability to access their data through other nodes.
➢User Anonymity: With a user key being the only connection between any participant and their data, each user gets the benefit of privileged system access. With non-interactive zero-knowledge proofs like zk-SNARK adding more layers of anonymity, you can conceal your identity from online cybercriminals.
➢Cryptographic Data Preservation: By linking blocks with cryptographic hash functions, information can not be changed once it is recorded on the blockchain. Every change made has to apply to each subsequent block, and is therefore a unique transaction. These cryptographic functions increase the data’s integrity, making it far safer than centralized networks.
All of these features come together to create a system that prevents data manipulation. In an age where information is often altered to create opportunities for fraud, immutable data is highly sought after. If the information can not be modified and is easily verified, it is easier to deem it trustworthy. The intel that companies operate on should always be accurate and authoritative; blockchain security offers this reliability.
But there are two sides to every innovation, and the blockchain is not perfect. While there are a diverse set of benefits from utilizing this type of security system, there are negative aspects as well.
Key Cons And Pros Of Using Blockchain For Cybersecurity
While increased anonymity and data preservation make the blockchain an attractive avenue for advanced cybersecurity tactics, it has its own set of drawbacks. New technology can be difficult to initially adapt to and come with its own challenges, keeping many using antiquated systems out of frustration.
Here is a brief summary of the pros and cons of blockchain security utilization.
|Blockchain Security Pros
|Blockchain Security Cons
|● Increased Data Transfer Security
With features like smart contracts (programs that operate securely within the blockchain), institutions can quickly and safely transfer financial facts and figures. The immutable nature of the data itself also helps mitigate information loss; Once information is in the blockchain, no one can change it. No matter what access level they possess, any data you intend to transfer is immutable.
● Stable Storage and Processing
Records on these systems can not be changed without creating a new transparent data point. This gives the blockchain a considerable advantage over conventional digital or paper records, which can be easily altered or destroyed. The stored data remains in its original stable form and can be processed quickly and easily.
● Private User Identity
Because the use of a cryptographic key is required for identification purposes, users have a high level of confidentiality. Engineers are currently working on ways to make the blockchain even more anonymous, with innovations like Keyless Signature Infrastructure allowing access without any required key disclosure.
● Resistant to Failure
Blockchains are decentralized, so damaging a single node won’t affect the system’s operation. Even for cyberattacks like a DDoS, where networks are intentionally overloaded to cause failure, the network can continue to operate due to copies of the ledger existing on each node.
● Better Data Control
With more transparency in system architecture and more privacy for your information, you can control when and how you access your data with a greater level of authority.
● Instantaneous Traceability
Each blockchain creates an audit trail that can document the movement of assets and data. In many industries, violation of human or environmental rights can cause concern amongst companies and their consumers. With this technology, you can easily trace data to show where goods have come from, proving no violations have taken place.
|○ Necessity of Private Keys
Private keys, or the random number sequences generated by crypto-wallets, are currently a necessity for most decentralized systems. Unfortunately, as opposed to a normal password, there is no way to recover a lost private key. Without that key, all of that user’s data is likely lost forever.
○ Can Be Difficult To Adapt
As with many technological innovations, some businesses will have difficulty with integration. Implementing the logic of an existing legacy system can be complicated in the blockchain; a complete replacement of existing networks is often required.
○ Operational Costs
With a higher required computing power and storage capacity, blockchain networks can be a challenge for those with budgetary constraints. While these costs may lower as the technology becomes more ubiquitous, traditional systems are currently a cheaper option.
○ Some Cyber Attacks Still Effective
Decentralized networks have a far lower risk of cyber attack, but they are not entirely immune. For example, blockchain systems are susceptible to consensus mechanisms, eclipse attacks, and vulnerabilities in their code.
A current lack of regulation in the operation of blockchain technology makes it an easier target for fraud. However, countries like the United States are working on crypto regulations, and several states have already created legal frameworks for blockchain usage.
○ Blockchain Knowledge
While cryptocurrency and blockchain technology increase in popularity with each passing year, there is still a massive demand for individuals with specific expertise. Blockchain developers need to understand a complex set of tools and programming languages to design system infrastructure and deal with security issues.
Where Blockchain Meets Cybersecurity
While it’s always good to consider the negatives before engaging in any new venture, the positive aspects of blockchain security make it a very attractive prospect. Whether it be complete control over data, the unchangeable nature of the blocks themselves, or the anonymity it provides, this new cybersecurity method has piqued the interest of various established institutions. Many businesses have seen the value these systems can add and have already integrated blockchain into their operations.
Top Blockchain Use Cases For Cybersecurity
Whether you deal directly with customers, clients, or large institutions, many industries could benefit from this advanced form of cybersecurity. Here are some of the fields where blockchain technology has already been successfully implemented and seen excellent results.
Medical files need to be stored securely and transferred without interruption or interference. With a blockchain system, these goals can easily be accomplished, with institutions sending documents to different hospitals and departments quickly and safely. Blockchain technology can also facilitate safe messaging services, where patients can send secure messages to their physicians to ask questions about their treatment plan, schedule appointments, or resolve any concerns.
Transactional transparency has excellent value to those in the financial industry, and blockchain systems offer just that. With far more advanced security than digital and paper transactions, transactions that take place on the blockchain create immutable data. Customers can also feel a greater sense of security that their data is protected due to the systems’ decentralized nature and innovations like zero-knowledge range proof. Smart contracts also allow for automatic agreement execution, therefore actions like deposits happen automatically once certain conditions are met.
Real Estate Companies
Property ownership validation and fund transfers can take up a lot of time in the real estate industry. With blockchain networks, these processes are automated and secured. Automation and information validation helps make file management simple and save on many associated costs. Property ownership records are stored within the blockchain and are therefore unchangeable. Smart contracts can also allow the purchase, sale, and rental of property to be set up by a system of automatic agreements. Overall, these networks can save real estate companies untold amounts of time.
Transparency is becoming increasingly important in government, and blockchains can offer that transparency along with expanded security capabilities. Many government processes, like elections, tax collection, and government spending, can be managed through these systems. Voting, for example, can become far more efficient and accurate. Smart contracts can help count votes quickly, with verified results. In addition, the data from these results cannot be changed once in the blockchain and is safe from any criminal tampering.
Supply Chain Companies
Shipping records, transactional documents, and freight data are all vital components to keeping a supply chain company running smoothly. With blockchain systems, companies can ensure all their records are safe from corruption and crime. Easier access to information also allows for better efficiency analysis and can help streamline operations to increase profit margins.
Impact Of Using Blockchain For Cybersecurity
Since its inception over 13 years ago, blockchain technology has expanded rapidly. The impact these systems have had on completely negating certain types of attacks is undeniable. Denial-of-service attacks used to be one of the most straightforward malicious actions to commit, with devastating results. With blockchain cybersecurity methods, DDoS attacks are made entirely impossible.
User trust is also essential, and consumers have become warier of the companies they give their money to. With blockchain security, privacy concerns can be quelled by anonymous utilization and complete informational transparency. Instead of blindly trusting a corporation with personal details, end users can see what information is sharable and where it resides within a given chain.
Breaches of data, which have become more frequent in recent years, are another example of the vulnerabilities of traditional systems. These breaches are often rooted in one central idea: access. With features like smart contracts reducing the possibility of human error, timestamped logs accompanying each block, and complete access control for end-users, compromised data could be a thing of the past.
Blockchain Security: The Future Of Data Breach Prevention
Data breaches can happen without you even knowing it. That’s why it’s crucial to not only run data breach scans but to enhance your cybersecurity abilities. The blockchain offers rich opportunities to maintain a high level of online security. While the technology is still growing and improving, its ability to ensure information integrity, network flexibility, and reliable encryption mechanisms is unmatched. As time goes on, more industries will adopt this tech, making life much harder for would-be cybercriminals.