It might take five years or it might even take a decade, but one thing is for certain, most of us will live in smart cities pretty soon. Starting with our smartphones over a decade ago, smart connected devices are now on the brink of taking us to places that sci-fi writers once only dreamed about.
The race is on as smart connected cities have the potential to be highly efficient, reduce resource consumption, improve traffic lights coordinations, and reduce congestion. From an enterprise point of view, these smart devices can also help us become more productive, increase revenue, reduce overhead expenses, and minimize industrial waste.
Last year, we already had an estimated 8.4 billion smart cameras, thermostats, streetlight, and other devices connected to the internet. Within the next two years, experts predict that the Internet of Things (IoT) will surpass 20 billion devices. Fast forward to 2030, that number is expected to grow to more than 500 billion.
However, with so many connected IoT devices and sensors, the whole planet can quickly become a massive target for bad actors. As a result, there are some serious concerns about security which has often been an afterthought for most manufacturers.
This approach has already had dire consequences. For example, the Mirai (Dyn) botnet attack targeted insecure IoT devices and managed to take down a huge chunk of the web including the likes of CNN, Netflix, and Reddit (to name a few).
This IoT botnet attack was possible because the malware was able to easily target smart devices and use the default usernames and passwords to log in and initiate the attack. While this was a serious incident, the good news is that the solution to this problem is now quite clear to many in the industry.
According to the tech giant Samsung, the blockchain will be key to ensuring that all IoT devices maintain improved security while communicating seamlessly. This is because the blockchain comes with the ability to better track major cyber attacks and distribute security updates accordingly.
What Makes the Blockchain Perfect for IoT Security?
When you bring connectivity to scale, there is always a real danger of compromising security. With the blockchain, you can easily eliminate this potential problem.
However, IoT devices don’t have the capacity to host the blockchain themselves. But there’s a way to get around this issue. As this technology is highly immutable, developers can easily establish root identities for all the connected smart devices by using cryptographic keys.
This means that IoT sensors and devices can now provide credentials to participate in the ecosystem. Then these credentials can be stored and validated on a public blockchain (which will most likely be Ethereum).
IoT developers are also attracted to securing the IoT environment with the blockchain because you can implement machine learning algorithms to keep track of behavioral variations and device reputation (and flag it when there’s a departure from the norm).
While most of us refer to this “smart” technology, IoT devices themselves aren’t exactly smart enough to make security decisions and adapt their behavior all on their own.
Rather, they need the help of some sort of central authority to do it effectively. In this scenario, however, a decentralized public ledger like the blockchain is the ideal choice to help an IoT ecosystem filled with connected devices achieve enhanced security.
This is important because IoT security will be heavily dependent on the identity and reputation of each device to enable secure interaction between autonomous devices. You can also take it a step further and add data encryption to eliminate transport-layer protection.
The Blockchain Offers Robust Data Protection
In the beginning, IoT followed a highly centralized enterprise security model, but this approach consistently fell short of expectations. The blockchain, on the other hand, offered much more robust data protections because of its decentralized nature.
With the blockchain added to the mix, it’s (almost) impossible to engage in malicious activities or tamper with the devices. With its distributed ledger that records and shares each transaction along with its cryptography capabilities, developers can now build a strong and secure IoT environment while pushing network intrusion detection to the edge.
This highly transparent distributed ledger also comes with powerful audit capabilities and timestamp functions. This means that every action will be recorded in a precise immutable manner.
However, to make this all come together and work efficiently, developers will also need to engage in some precision coding that doesn’t require a lot of storage. This is important because you still have to leave enough space for the device’s application code and the operating system (which is far from a simple undertaking).
When it comes to IoT security, the blockchain just makes sense. In fact, there isn’t another candidate that can ensure enhanced security for a planet full of smart devices.