How to Secure IoT Networks with Blockchain
The digital world is our new reality. Advanced technology has already permeated all spheres and industries. Networking and web-based solutions are the names of the game when it comes to modern methods of communication, interaction, and data exchange in daily life and in business.
Both the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain use the best networking capabilities to fully unleash their potential and cater to the digital world's needs.
While the Internet of Things is a network itself, blockchain is a technology designed to support and protect digital network operations. These two can make friends since blockchain can be used to bring the extended IoT ecosystem’s security to yet another level.
This article will explore how IoT safety will benefit from blockchain implementation.
Why Is Blockchain Essential for IoT?
The Internet of Things is initially a concept based on the idea that all devices featuring Internet connectivity (be it household appliances or heavy industrial machinery) could connect to each other and create a vast net for data collection or exchange.
An IoT structure embraces multiple objects equipped with smart capabilities ensuring wireless Internet connection and enabling those objects to link via gateways or share info across the system.
Read: IoT Trends in 2023
This type of web-based framework has a huge potential to transform the way we live, handle daily errands, communicate, and run businesses by offering the following:
Common tasks and processes automation;
Increased efficiency in data transfer;
Real-time data collection;
Improved data accuracy for swift decision-making;
Costs reduction through process optimization;
Enhanced convenience through easy and effective remote control.
The Internet of Things concept is not new. Yet, it has experienced significant growth in recent years and continues to expand. Under IoT Analytics forecasts, by 2025, the global Internet of Things networks will count over 27 billion devices.
With so much going for it, the IoT technology is not flawless. Its main weak point is security since wireless connections the Intelligent systems rely on leave room for digital breaches.
Security Problems of IoT Networks
Using a network principle, Smart Systems connect devices with various security degrees. As such, networks don’t have integrated security measures which makes them prone to cyber attacks, hacking, data theft, and other digital threats.
Read: Blockchain Testing
The Internet of Things thrives, covering our homes, workplaces, public places, and multiple industries. So does the number of security breaches, which exposes systems to consistent attacks.
To better understand the importance of blockchain for IoT frameworks, first, it’s necessary to take a closer look at security risks pertaining to Intelligent Systems.
Weak authentication: Many devices in the system have weak authentication mechanisms. This makes them vulnerable to unauthorized access, allowing hackers to get access to sensitive information, such as personal data or network credentials.
Inadequate encryption: Digital devices tend to use weak encryption algorithms, thus, being vulnerable to attacks. Some of them even transmit data over unencrypted channels, thus, enabling attackers to intercept and eavesdrop on sensitive information.
Malware and botnets: IoT objects can be infected with malware or recruited into botnets. Further, infected devices are used to launch attacks against critical network systems. This can result in widespread damage and disruption.
Complexity: IoT structures can be complex and challenging to manage, making identifying and addressing security vulnerabilities difficult. Poor management alone increases the risk of attacks.
Lack of standards: There are no universally accepted security standards for connected networks yet. Given the number of different devices engaged in a system, it’s difficult to maintain a high security level for all of them. This creates a whole lot of loopholes for hackers to intervene and exploit the system's weaknesses.
Lack of software updates: Many Intelligent System units lack the ability to receive software updates which puts them at risk of newly discovered vulnerabilities or exploits. Outdated software might fail to protect a device from being infected with malware and against new threats.
Physical security: IoT devices can be physically vulnerable to theft, tampering, or destruction, which compromises the whole network's security. An attacker could steal a device and extract sensitive information from it to hack the whole system.
At this point, blockchain comes up as an excellent solution for minimizing IoT security vulnerabilities.
How a Blockchain Can Help in Securing IoT Networks
Blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT) is best known for ensuring transaction security in cryptocurrency systems. However, it’s much more than that. Its use today goes far beyond financial markets.
Technologically, DLT is a digital ledger tracking and recording transactions or data transfer between digital network nodes. Typically, those nodes are computers. But those could be any software-enabled devices that greatly expand DLT application spheres.
At the DLT core is a decentralized immutable ledger shared across the net to ensure tamper-proof record storing and transfer. Records are stored in blocks that cannot be altered, thus, eliminating the need for centralized control.
If you wonder how all of these will work for IoT security, consider the DLT operation pattern:
Immutable transaction data block creation;
Block distribution to each node in the system;
Block validation by all nodes to verify the transaction;
Transaction completion by adding the block to the existing blockchain.
When projected to an IoT system, this scheme allows for:
Preventing internal transactions from changes and removal;
Storing the accurate history of digital actions;
Tracking digital actions at any system level;
Creating a standardized approach to the validation of communications and actions across the system;
Easily tracking data across the system;
Improving large networks' self-protection and privacy.
Blockchain Benefits for IoT Network Security
The DLT's decentralized character, data protection level, tamper-resistant framework, transparency, and traceability, the technology can enhance multi-tier computing systems in many different ways.
Let’s consider the primary security benefits the Intelligent System framework will reap from the DLT technology implementation.
1. Decentralized Conception
Blockchain uses neither a centralized authority nor an intermediary to verify, reconcile, and manage digital actions inside the network. As a result, it’s harder for hackers and hijackers to spot a single point of failure.
For IoT devices, DLT can provide a decentralized data storage and communication platform, providing better attack tolerance.
A decentralized DLT architecture can also be used to level up authentication security. With a unique digital identity appropriated to each IoT object, centralized verification will not be needed.
It will increase communication security between the system nodes and limit attackers' capabilities.
This technology has many applications in various modern business niches.
In addition to the security benefits for IoT devices, blockchain technology is also being used in the automotive industry, particularly in automotive software engineering services, to improve supply chain management, enhance transparency, and increase efficiency.
2. Immutable Records
Once data is added to DLT, it becomes immutable and cannot be altered. Hence, the technology is ideal for creating a tamper-proof record of IoT device transactions or interactions.
Using cryptographic algorithms to ensure record immutability, DLT will make tracking and preventing any suspicious activity or security breaches easier.
3. Smart Contracts
Smart contracts are self-executing contracts that can be programmed to automate specific functions. In the context of Intelligent Systems, smart contracts can be used to automate security functions, such as enforcing access controls or detecting unauthorized access attempts.
Smart contracts allow for significant data protection upgrades. Only authorized parties will have access to vulnerable data and IoT device control.
Read: Consensus Algorithms in Blockchain
However, this is an advantage that people in various fields can take advantage of. For example, smart contracts have the potential to revolutionize the hospitality industry by streamlining operations and enhancing data security.
This is why more and more companies are seeking hospitality software development services to integrate smart contract technology into their operations.
Additionally, smart contracts will contribute to connected ecosystem automation. Automated processes will become smoother and better coordinated.
4. Verification Mechanism
DLT technology is backed by a consensus mechanism to validate transactions and ensure the integrity of the network. This mechanism can prevent the inception of malicious code or data into the system, thus, providing a more secure way to validate communications and messages between IoT devices.
Blockchain Technology in IoT Use Cases
DLT can integrate with Smart Systems in a win-win manner. It will integrate into the IoT structure to complement its protective features as well as significantly improve its security.
Read: Use Cases for Blockchain
The benefits of both technologies easily sync to optimize and enhance the whole network, with user privacy and system safety in focus.
This seamless blockchain-IoT combo can be effectively used in different spheres and industries:
Supply Chain Management: Digital sensors can be used to track the movement and condition of goods throughout the supply chain. DLT will create an immutable record of each transaction, ensuring traceability and accountability.
Smart Home Systems: Digital devices such as smart thermostats, lighting systems, and security cameras can be connected to a DLT network to set up a secure, decentralized home automation system.
Energy Management: Smart sensors can be used to monitor energy usage in homes and buildings. Meanwhile, DLT will enable the creation of a peer-to-peer energy trading network where individuals can buy and sell excess energy.
Healthcare: Digital devices can be used to monitor patients' health and transmit data to healthcare providers. DLT, on the other hand, will ensure a tamper-proof system for storing and sharing medical records.
Autonomous Vehicles: IoT sensors can collect data about traffic patterns and road conditions. And will enable secure communication between vehicles and infrastructure, thus, helping to reduce accidents and traffic congestion.
Undoubtedly, blockchain will become a game changer for the Internet of Things systems, bringing their security and overall performance to another level. Both technologies are continuously evolving to solve emerging problems and match the needs of the modern digital world.
One thing is clear, though. Digital ledger technology is the “best friend” of complex connected networks. It will help tackle the major security challenges and create a protected network environment safe for the users and inaccessible to attackers.