Events | February 27, 2018
The Internet vs. Blockchain – a New Model of the Internet of Things
Within the next few years, the total number of devices connected to the Internet will exceed 20 billion, which is already more than the number of people who have ever lived. The Internet of Things has become reality, but has this change also brought about a change of approach to the security of data on which this technology is based? This doesn’t seem to be the case, as the “Internet of Insecurity” was the watchword of the conference that took place on the first day of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, in which JCommerce of course took part.
The Internet of Things is one of the most dynamically developing fields in today’s world of modern technologies, all thanks to microprocessors that can be installed in almost every device around us, as well as fast and efficient networks enabling data transmission, and cloud technology that allows for the collection and processing of unlimited amounts of data. Finally, the Big Data revolution, self-learning algorithms and artificial intelligence are also significant, as thanks to all this, we can transform this huge amount of data into knowledge.
But the Internet of Things doesn’t just bring opportunities, but threats as well. We must remember that by connecting our devices to the network, we bring the dangers which were previously limited to virtual reality to life. Stock exchanges, banks, transport networks, power plants and even hospitals that our lives depend on are all based on advanced technologies. So are the houses we live in and the cars we drive. The economy – currently undergoing a digital transformation – is based more and more on data and software development, which concerns increasingly important, and often very sensitive, areas of our lives.
Sensitive data on public networks
However, it turns out that one of the biggest threats to the Internet of Things is the use of the Internet, that is, the public network. This paradox arises from the fact that the Internet was not created for the solutions we are currently using. The Internet is above all a medium for effective communication. Its basic advantage is that it is available to everyone. So using it for purposes that require the processing of particularly valuable, sensitive or strategically relevant data from the company’s point of view seems to be a sizeable error. Such data should not be available to everyone.
And in actual fact, at the data security level, the Internet of Things is particularly vulnerable to four basic threats:
- “man-in-the-middle”-type attacks,
- leaks or insufficient protection of authorizing data (for years, the most popular passwords have been qwerty and 123456),
- code modification – an attack on the original software, which becomes insecure as a result of the modification of the code,
- leak of encryption keys used to encrypt communication between devices or the device and the cloud.
Small wonder, then, that the growing popularity of IoT solutions is closely followed by an increasing number of successful cyberattacks. WonnaCry ransomware, which last year disrupted the activities of companies and public institutions around the world, is just one of the most spectacular examples. The issue of security is becoming more and more important for business, and customers (and investors) will increasingly make decisions based on which company they deem most trustworthy.
Companies have already noticed this change. Awareness of the fact that the Internet of Things is a huge ecosystem of shared data is beginning to take shape. Its use can bring vast benefits, but also means shared responsibility. So companies are beginning to cooperate with each other in order to create a safer Internet of Things. One such initiative is the Trusted IoT Alliance (TIoTA), an open source software foundation created to support the creation of a secure, scalable, interoperable, and trusted IoT ecosystem.
TIoTA is a consortium of companies which have made the assumption that a public network, such as the Internet, is not the proper foundation on which to stake the success of the Internet of Things. Rather, it is the exchange of data in the network that is necessary for the Internet of Things to fulfill its function. That’s why you need a global IoT network and appropriate software development team to ensure the security of your data. Such a network could be based on blockchain technology.
For the creators of TIoTA, blockchain is a cryptographically secure, decentralized, shared view of the truth, between multiple parties. In other words, blockchain is a tool which makes information trustworthy. Thanks to blockchain, it is finally possible to create highly secure networks of interconnected devices that identify and authorize one another without difficulty. All data transmitted is unchangeable, so there is no danger of the data transmission being falsified.
Does this mean that the Internet of Things will soon be replaced by the Blockchain of Things? Given the popularity of this technology and the ever-growing range of its applications, one could risk making such a statement. However, blockchain is still behind the Internet in one very important field: trustworthiness. Trust in the Internet is on a global scale, as is its use. Blockchain is still mainly associated with BitCoin and financial speculation. Is this going to change? Probably not any time soon.