The need to protect critical information is nothing new. From securing social security numbers to health records and financial information, businesses have been protecting sensitive data for decades. However, throughout history thieves have proven that where there’s a will, there’s a way.
As companies now rely on the internet and technology more than ever, new gaps exist for cybercriminals to exploit to get their hands on valuable information. In the last 10 years, blockchain has emerged as one of the latest ‘hot’ technologies. Now, companies are beginning to preach about its capabilities to secure data and keep threat actors at bay. So, how is blockchain – a tool that essentially began as a digital wallet – revolutionizing cybersecurity for SMBs and enterprises? Could blockchain really be the future of cybersecurity? Or is it just another broken promise?
Blockchain is a digital ledger in which transactions are recorded chronologically and publically. Transactions made on blockchain are stored in a distributed and verifiable environment. These attributes mean that data stored in a large blockchain network is significantly more difficult for attackers to tamper with. The scalability and distribution of this tamper-proof technology are what’s catching the attention of businesses leaders and investors across an array of industries such as healthcare, financial services, manufacturing and even education, to name a few. In fact, according to a report from Deloitte, $1 billion was invested in blockchain in 2016 alone by financial services and technology firms globally, and this number is expected to rise exponentially throughout the next five years.
However, nothing comes without its weaknesses. Blockchain is still a relatively young technology which needs time to mature. For an enterprise to hedge all its bets on a tool that’s still in its infancy would be taking a big risk. Additionally, since public blockchains are distributed, anyone can view the activity, though not necessarily the personal, private information needing to be secured. When storing critical information, it’s essential to implement an authentication system and add encryption on top of the blockchain to ensure the data remains private. As the data is hosted, maintained and verified by multiple sources in a decentralized environment, blockchain is a transparent system, which can ultimately be a strength and weakness depending on the data being stored.
Compliance and Blockchain
As previously mentioned, many highly-regulated industries are hopping on the blockchain bandwagon to help improve the auditing process. Since information within a block cannot, in theory, be manipulated, it provides a verified chain-of-trust and proof-of-process for compliance. Private blockchains not only ensure organizations are securing patient and customer data, but also that business processes are followed.
According to the Deloitte report, “The technology’s audit capability provides organizations with a level of transparency and security over every interaction. From a cybersecurity perspective, this provides entities with an extra level of reassurance that the data is authentic and has not been tampered with.”
A Help or Hindrance for Cybersecurity?
There’s no silver bullet solution to cybersecurity – and we certainly are not saying that blockchain is a replacement for a robust security program – but the technology is revolutionizing the way companies transmit and protect data. For more than eight years, cryptocurrencies built on blockchain have withstood cyberattacks, which is inspiring companies around the world to invest, explore and push the limits of blockchain technology to mitigate ever-present security issues.
For example, REMME is using blockchains to eliminate passwords, which is one of the most easily hackable authentication measures due to human error. By assigning each device a unique SSL certificate managed by blockchain, fake certificates cannot be used; therefore, hackers have no centralized servers or weak points to exploit. The platform also requires two-factor authentication for the highest level of security.
Additionally, Civic employs blockchain for identity management. Identity theft is a very real issue. In fact, Javelin Strategy & Research found that $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016 alone. With Civic’s Secure Identity Platform (SIP), users can securely manage their identity, which is fully encrypted on the user’s mobile device, accessed by biometrics. Through the decentralized architecture, the platform provides multi-factor authentication to companies verifying the data without a username, password, third-party authenticator or physical hardware token.
These blockchain solutions help to solve one of the biggest fundamental flaws in security: human error. With no single point of failure and operational resilience, this technology is not only likely here to stay, but it’s applications will also continue to expand.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of blockchain is what we don’t know yet. When the internet was in its infancy, nobody predicted it would become what it is today. Similarly, blockchain has the potential to be a new foundational technology – a system upon which the key security applications of tomorrow could be built.
Soon enough, we’ll witness a big idea that is going to revolutionize the entire security paradigm. Until then, industries in both the private and public sector should consider an investment in blockchain technology to transmit and secure essential information.