Since the advent of blockchain technology, it has garnered all sorts of hype and attention. The core of the hype stems from how it can make communications and data sharing more secure. The possibilities are limitless, blockchain poses questions that allow us to ponder on how to fix all loose ends when securing important data.
To understand the core of blockchain, we should delve into its inner workings. Essentially, blockchain is a growing list of records, known as blocks. These blocks are linked using cryptography. Each individual block contains a cryptographic imprint of the previous block, like a time stamp, or transaction data. Through this, blockchain data cannot be modified. Alluding to the way in which it can help secure, and combat cyber threats.
Yet the key features that advocates point to, such as the ability for participants to remain anonymous while sharing data with one another, can actually increase security risks for certain applications if not properly addressed. This would lead to some blockchain technologies being under the grasp of bad actors. When there is no platform with a concrete solution for validating the identity of participating entities, vulnerability becomes a high factor risk.
That’s not to say blockchain has no role to play in helping your organization introduce new efficiencies while strengthening your security posture. But it’s only one tool in your toolbox, along with technologies such as public key infrastructure (PKI), artificial intelligence and machine learning. Similar to selecting a flathead screwdriver to for a particular purpose, you need to choose the appropriate tools for your specific applications.
Blockchain allows for a decentralized model and anonymity layer. Hence the reason why applications based on public blockchain platforms, like Bitcoin, have taken off. Blockchain can also be used in communities that want to take advantage of decentralization while ensuring a high integrity of the ecosystem through importance on vetted identities rather than anonymous ones.
One common misperception is that there is one blockchain. There are, in fact, three variants: public platforms (e.g., Bitcoin), in which anyone can participate; private platforms (e.g., Hyperledger Fabric) that include invited participants to build applications; and hybrid blockchain platforms (e.g., Ripple), where any user can view the blockchain, but only permissioned users can make changes.
No matter the variant, blockchain brings to the forefront values such as transparency, auditability, and traceability. In the context of hardened security necessary to bind identity and authentication of entities, blockchain lags behind. Lacking of this critical capability leads to obvious loopholes, where bad actors can take advantage of anonymity and imitate legitimate users. That’s not to say, that the validation of entities to ensure secure interactions can’t be done.
Identities don’t need to be revealed in order to be trusted, but they should be validated before further interactions take place.Determining whether Blockchain can help or hurt, we must fundamentally look at how the technology can be aligned to our systems perfectly. When properly implemented, blockchain can serve as part of a unified future solution in the security toolbox.
Do your homework today so that when blockchain becomes more widely used, you will be ready to apply the appropriate technology to the right use cases as part of a comprehensive security approach.
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