Blockchain offers decentralization, transparency, immutability, security, and efficiency. These attributes make blockchain useful in many functional areas and industries. Blockchain technology ensures network security and cybersecurity too, and the following are key use cases:
1. Making IoT networks secure with blockchain
IoT is a promising technology, however, it has security vulnerabilities. Communications with an IoT network happen over the Internet. Hackers routinely target IoT systems. Hacked IoT networks can expose sensitive sectors like oil-&-gas and energy to considerable risks.
Blockchain can help to secure IoT networks with its immutability, authentication, and encryption. Developers of IoT systems can secure data exchanges within the network by using blockchain and encryption. They can integrate blockchain-powered authentication systems to allow only trusted parties in the network.
Block Armour, a cybersecurity start-up is already using blockchain-based authentication to secure IoT networks. CISCO is planning to use blockchain to secure IoT systems.
2. Checking the integrity of software downloads
Users download software from the Internet, and hackers try to take advantage of this. Cyber-attackers modify software products by infecting them with malware. Users unknowingly download malware too when downloading such software products.
Blockchain can prevent such cybersecurity threats. Software product vendors can use an “integrity hash”. It’s a cryptographic hash of a software download file. Vendors can store these “integrity hashes” on a blockchain, and users can view them.
When users download software products, they can compare the “integrity hash” of their download against the hash on the blockchain. A match indicates that the software product isn’t compromised.
3. Enabling decentralized storage of sensitive and important data
Data breaches involving confidential information are commonplace. Many factors make this type of cybercrime easy for hackers. One of these factors is the nature of the data stored. Centralized repositories store a data file as one entity. Once cybercriminals get their hands on it, they have the entire set of confidential information.
Blockchain-powered decentralized storage platforms offer a solution to this. Take the example of the Sharder Network. This blockchain solution first encrypts data. It then uploads the data to the network.
Sharder Network then breaks the encrypted data into smaller segments. These segments are known as “Shards”. Modern database management systems store data in partitions called “Shards”, and Sharder Network follows that concept.
Sharder Network distributed shards to different nodes on its network. It has mechanisms to keep track of different shards. Sharder Network also keeps backups of this data on different nodes, which ensures availability.
Cybercriminals need to hack multiple nodes on this network to collect all shards, which is hard enough. They don’t know the basis on which the data was fragmented in the first place. Therefore, they can’t reassemble the data file even if they manage to collect all shards.
4. Preventing DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks
DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks are becoming increasingly commonplace. Hackers send massive waves of traffic to the website or IT network of a company. Such a persistent and heavy volume of traffic severely impacts the IT services of the company.
DDoS attacks are cheap for hackers since they only need to attack one centrally-administered website or IT network. These centrally-administered networks have a “Single Point of Failure” (SPoF).
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The decentralized network of blockchain can offer a viable defense against DDoS attacks. Blockchain eliminates any SPoF by design. Hackers need to send waves of heavy traffic to many servers. That’s expensive for hackers. The bigger the decentralized network is, the more expensive it becomes for hackers. This acts as a serious disincentive to cybercriminals.
5. Providing DNS security
When we try to access a website, our request goes through the “Domain Name System” (DNS). A DNS service translates alphanumeric names of websites into their respective IP addresses, which facilitates Internet traffic.
Cybercriminals commonly target DNS services. They try to tamper with the DNS data of websites. Transactions or requests from users to an affected website get diverted to a server controlled by hackers. Cybercriminals can then proceed with their planned operations, which might include crashing a website.
Many of us believe that DNS services are decentralized. That’s only partly true. Companies offering DNS services distribute their DNS servers in many parts of the world. Therefore, these DNS services are partly decentralized. However, DNS services are centralized when it comes to administration and redundancy management.
Blockchain can help to prevent DNS security breaches. A decentralized blockchain network utilizes robust security mechanisms like cryptographic hash functions, consensus algorithms, etc. These security mechanisms make data on a blockchain network tamper-proof.
Hackers can’t tamper with DNS data recorded on a decentralized blockchain network. Since no central administrator governs a blockchain DNS service, hackers can’t compromise its administration. Several blockchain-based DNS services exist, and Ethereum Name Service (ENS) is an example.
6. Crowdsourcing virus-related threat intelligence using blockchain
Antivirus providers have a tough job since new computer viruses emerge every now and then. Cybercriminals work in an organized and sophisticated manner to create new computer viruses. Antivirus providers find it hard to gather reliable data about such activities, therefore, they often can’t come up with preventive measures.
OpenAVN is a cybersecurity company focusing on antivirus solutions. It has developed many capabilities, which include crowdsourcing cybersecurity threat intelligence. The company uses blockchain and smart contracts to collect and store global malware-related information. It utilizes this information to strengthen its antivirus solution against emerging threat.
There is a growing market for blockchain-based network security and cybersecurity solutions. A Market Research Future report states that this market will grow from $178.37 million in 2017 to $1572.46 million in 2023.
Several start-ups are utilizing blockchain for network security and cybersecurity. A few examples are Hacken, OpenAVN, Sharder Network, Block Armour, Cryptyk, AnChain.ai, and Taekion.
Many governments and large businesses already use blockchain to ensure network security and cybersecurity. A few examples are the Australian government, Chinese military, government of the state of Colorado, CISCO, and Barclays.