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Is Blockchain the Solution to IoT Security?

Blockchain IoT securitySecurity of Internet of Things (IoT) devices is an ongoing problem. The largely unregulated IoT market leaves plenty of room for device hacking. When considering applications such as smart homes and smart cars, this lack of security can be a real concern. A hacker, for example, could take over a self-driving car with someone in it, or make purchases based on access levels given to an IoT system. With all of the data that is collected and passed between IoT devices, strong security is a must.

While there are many security recommendations for IoT devices, such as biometrics and two-factor authorization, one potential solution is blockchain IoT security. Blockchain, which is most familiar for bitcoin and Ethereum, offers an intriguing solution for IoT security. Blockchain contains strong protections against data tampering, locking access to Internet of Things devices, and allowing compromised devices in an IoT network to be shut down. Hyundai has recently backed a blockchain start-up that is specifically designed for IoT security. Called HDAC (Hyundai Digital Access Currency), this innovative approach creates a permissioned private network.

“Some differentiating features of the HDAC token are that it has a new PoW mining algorithm (ePoW) that reduces mining monopolization, has 3-minute blocks, and has a private/public/permissioned blockchain.” (@ecurrencyhodler)

Thomas Hardjono, Chief Technology Officer of MIT Connection Science, suggests that we need infrastructure to manage devices, as well as data access. In a recent paper, he proposes a blockchain-based IoT framework called ChainAnchor. “This framework addresses device security with activation and security layers supported by device makers, data providers and independent third parties…The proposed framework includes layers of access that can keep out unauthorized devices or cut bad actors (such as a hacked device) from the network. It also includes cases for safely selling and removing devices from the blockchain.” (Compton)

If there is to be blockchain IoT security, however, there are issues to be overcome. For one, blockchain mining requires a large amount of processing power. Many IoT devices lack the power needed. Current blockchains are vulnerable if a group of miners controls more than 50% of the network’s mining hashrate. The global distribution of nodes in a typical blockchain makes this very difficult. But a home IoT blockchain’s processing power might be more easily hacked.

IoT security will continue to evolve as regulations related to their development and use continue their forward march. However the possibility of a blockchain IoT security system is something that may hold great potential.

Would you like to learn more about the Internet of Things? Check out our online course program: IEEE Guide to the Internet of Things

 

References

Compton, J. (2017, 27 Jun). How Blockchain Could Revolutionize the Internet of Things. Forbes. 

@ecurrencyhodler. (2017, 21 Nov). The Solution to IoT is Blockchain Security. hackernoon. 

 

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