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Blockchain And Cybersecurity 

an image of a hand with cybersecurity text and a padlock to represent blockchain and cybersecurity

In February 2020, hackers launched a DDoS attack against Amazon Web Services (AWS). Records say it was the largest attack experienced at that time. SolarWinds, Colonial Pipeline, and others caused severe security and economic problems. Practically, no industry is safe as cybercriminals seem to be learning new ways to launch attacks on individuals and organizations. 

Blockchain has natural features such as immutability, transparency, and integrity that may mitigate cybersecurity concerns. In this article, we will explore how this cutting-edge technology can reduce the rate of cyberattacks and how organizations are exploiting these benefits. 

What Are The Challenges Facing The Cybersecurity Industry?

Cyberattacks are more frequent than ever in this post-pandemic age. Studies reveal that the rate increased by 50% in 2022 compared to 2021. This opines that there may be further increases in subsequent years if adequate action isn’t taken. Listed below, however, are several other challenges facing the cybersecurity industry. 

Cyber Pandemic

We live in a global world. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies are embracing the new normal–a hybrid work model. The rise of remote work in corporate establishments creates reliance on technology for a streamlined workflow. But is this advantageous? The distributed work environment poses security risks for employees relying on home networks.

Viruses, for instance, can replicate from the host to other computers. Advanced viruses can modify themselves to become harder to detect. The principal targets for cyberattacks are vulnerabilities from individuals or the cloud infrastructure. Most of these platforms are centralized and have a single point of failure. For instance, the OMIGOD vulnerability was discovered in September 2021. It stems from the Open Management Software (OMI), which is susceptible to attack. This single attack would have affected over 60% of Azure customers, but it was resolved.

These widespread attacks have made cybersecurity more challenging. Organizations are seeking newer methods to secure their system and customer data. 

The Internet Of Things Attack 

IoT is a system of interconnected devices with smart sensors or other forms of technology for data exchange. The adoption of IoT is increasing sporadically, which signifies more opportunities for cybercriminals. IoT requires high-level security, as one attack can affect other connected devices. 

IoT attacks majorly originate from unsecured connected devices. Attackers can scan devices for vulnerabilities to get access to the network. They can further infect the device with malware through phishing attacks or unprotected ports.  

For instance, the Mirai attack is a famous IoT botnet that occurred in 2016. Mirai is a type of malware that turns smart devices into a network of remote-controlled bots. A botnet is a network of infected gadgets. Typically, hackers use the botnet to conduct further attacks on the system, like phishing attacks. Once it infects the system, the malware seeks vulnerabilities to gain access to the IoT device using a default username and password. 

After accessing the site, cybercriminals can use this opportunity to crash targeted websites. Or worse, increase the traffic on the site. If this isn’t resolved quickly, the site will remain inaccessible. 

The Mirai botnet can facilitate DDoS (Decentralised denial of service) attacks. Usually, the hackers demand a huge sum of money to remove or resolve the malware. In most cases, they may use this as an avenue for further attacks. 

The Supply Chain Attack 

Also called a third-party attack, it occurs when attackers infiltrate an unsecured section of the chain. As business methodologies and market demand change, the risks of supply chain attacks have been on the rise. Cybercriminals now have more techniques and resources in their arsenal to facilitate their malicious acts. 

A perfect example of a supply chain attack is the SolarWinds attack. SolarWinds is a company that specializes in producing Orion, a network and applications monitoring platform. The attack affected over 18000 customers, including Government and US fortune 500 companies. 

In an interview with CSOUS, Steve Zalewski, Deputy CISO at Levi Strauss, shared that supply chain attacks are due to violating trust. Since most organizations rely on third-party apps to establish trust, this centralized operation system is costly and risky too. 

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Are A Primary Target

BYOD security allows employees to connect to the organization’s network and access work-related data. The study reveals that over 70% of employees use their personal devices. With rapid technological transformations, this value is expected to rise. 

Using personal devices at work is convenient. But is this safe? Attackers can gain access to company data by hacking, stealing, or infecting an employee’s phone via phishing and malware. This is very dangerous, as a compromised account can be legitimate to access information from the company’s network. 

Organizations don’t control the sites employees visit or who handles their phones. For instance, devices can be corrupted unknowingly while installing an app. People are unaware of these dangers and may ignore the terms and conditions before installing. 

Ransomware Attacks Are Gaining Popularity

Ransomware is yet another challenge facing the cybersecurity industry. It is malicious software that encrypts user data or systems. Usually, a form of payment is demanded from the victim to decrypt the data. 

Research shows that 22% of small businesses are subject to ransomware attacks. The attacker uses several vectors to access a computer. Usually, this data is accessible to them through phishing. The victim initially receives attachments through email that seems from an authentic source. Once the attachment is downloaded, the attackers gain access to the victim’s computer. 

Cybercriminals are constantly seeking newer ways to perform their activities. Another type of ransomware, called NotPetya, can infect a computer without using tricks. 

For instance, the global shipping company FedEx TNT experienced a cyberattack in 2017. The TNT system was infected with the NotPetya malware, which cost the company over $300 million.

There are other cases. Can blockchain technology be the answer to these security challenges? Let’s find out how. 

How Blockchain Provides Solutions To Cybersecurity Challenges 

Cyberattacks cause several operational system challenges to many organizations. Using centralized systems may also give room for attackers.  But can blockchain be a potential solution to all these challenges? 

After its global acceptance through bitcoin, blockchain technology has several potentials that can save businesses from cyberattacks. By integrating this cutting-edge technology into the current cybersecurity practices, blockchain can help businesses stay accountable. Although it doesn’t provide a holistic solution to all forms of cyberattacks, it proves to be more secure than other technologies. 

Blockchain’s decentralized nature makes it one of the best solutions to cybersecurity challenges. It works by simply encrypting data into blocks using cryptographic keys. Through this software, business owners can communicate data without the fear of cyberattacks. It doesn’t have any limits and can be applied in any industry.  

By securing data cryptographically, Blockchain technology mitigates the possibilities of vulnerabilities. It has no single source of failure, making it resilient to most cyberattacks. To add any information to the chain, there has to be a consensus between every network on the blockchain. Suppose a hacker tries to tamper with the data; the entire system analyses every block to discover the one different from the rest. Once it finds any, it removes it from the chain. 

Blockchain record-keeping system is another potential that makes it a fresh breath in the cybersecurity industry. Usually, every network (or node) has a copy of the blockchain. To alter information on the chain, the attacker must change every copy other users own. If a million networks are connected on the blockchain, it will be virtually impossible. 

Blockchain software provides an unalterable proof of transparency. Anyone who is authorized on a blockchain can access previous transactions that occurred in the past. 

Benefits Of Blockchain Technology In The Cybersecurity Industry

Verify Software Downloads And Updates 

Viruses and Trojan Horses that infect our devices are often difficult to detect. It comes in the guise of software download or phone application updates. Of course, this will escape an untrained eye. Even Macs which are supposedly immune to viruses, reported target by over 49,000 new forms of Malware created in 2018. 

The Malware camouflage to be legitimate apps to steal personal information from people’s devices. Although some might implement simple safety measures such as not downloading unknown apps or software. Cybercriminals have discovered more sophisticated measures that there’s a need to create and are finding newer forms to steal data fr

Organizations can use blockchain technology to create a unique hash for software downloads and updates. Now, users can compare this hash with the original developer to mitigate the spread of viruses and malware. 

Data Immutability And Transparency 

Every transaction on the blockchain–private or public–is time-locked. This means that organizations can trace data stored on the blockchain at any time, including the credentials of the party that created the data. 

Any new transaction on the network will require at least 51% consensus before it is validated. The auditable capability of the technology provides reassurance that data is authentic and hasn’t been tampered with. 

The coupling of cryptography and sequential hashing makes blockchain almost immutable to attack. Every block on the chain consists of a hash that only promotes end-to-end encryption between the parties involved. All these features help to improve how organizations interact with employees and clients. 

Decreases The Possibilities Of DDoS Attacks

DDoS attacks are often a result of bombarding a website with loads of requests till it crashes. Unlike DoS attacks, this type comes from several locations simultaneously. DDoS attacks should not be mistaken for website traffic. More often than not, the attacks are spiraled by multiple bots controlled by the attacker. If this isn’t resolved, it can crash your website and ultimately, affect your business. 

The distributed nature of blockchain helps to decrease the possibility of a DDoS attack. For instance, if a node on the network is affected, the other nodes still have access to the copy of information stored on the chain. So businesses can make a node under attack redundant and continue their daily activities without worries. Moreover, Since DDoS attacks occur on centralized servers, blockchain can be a potential solution to preventing them. 

Decentralized Medium Of Data Storage

Third-party storage apps are first-hand tools for cybercriminals. Since they operate via a centralized system, hackers can look for a vulnerable point to carry out malicious acts. This can be risky and costly to recover information once stolen. 

The distributed and decentralized nature of blockchain makes it harder for cybercriminals to infiltrate. Full encryption can be applied to every piece of data to ensure its inaccessibility to hackers. Through private keys, organizations can choose who accesses their data and who doesn’t. Even in worst-case scenarios, when the keys are compromised, previous transactions on the blockchain won’t be accessible. 

Use Cases Of Blockchain In Cybersecurity

Here’s how some organizations are incorporating blockchain technology in cybersecurity. 

Verify Software Downloads And Updates 

Viruses and Trojan Horses that infect our devices are often difficult to detect. It comes in the guise of software download or phone application updates. Of course, this will escape an untrained eye. Even Macs which are supposedly immune to viruses, reported target by over 49,000 new forms of Malware created in 2018. 

The Malware camouflage to be legitimate apps to steal personal information from people’s devices. Although some might implement simple safety measures such as not downloading unknown apps or software. Cybercriminals have discovered more sophisticated measures that there’s a need to create and are finding newer forms to steal data fr

Blockchain technology can be used to create a unique hash for software downloads and updates. Now, users can compare this hash with the original developer to mitigate the spread of viruses and malware. 

Secure Information Through Biometric Private Key 

Passwords are that protective bridge to our most important information. As relevant as they are, most people struggle with remembering password combinations or updating them. When this is consistent, passwords become predictable. 

According to Thycotic, 50% of security professionals haven’t changed their social media passwords for a year. 30% of them use pet names or birth dates as password combinations. The remaining 20% of security professionals have never changed their social media passwords. Even when we try to change them, cybercriminals have a way of figuring out the combinations. 

Blockchain technology relies on private keys, so it doesn’t require passwords. Users can also secure their information using biometric data. These methods are authentic and are almost impossible to infringe. 

Digital Exchange Through Cryptocurrency And Smart Contracts 

Thanks to smart contracts, businesses can transact on the blockchain without fear of theft. The smart contract is a computer program that operates when certain conditions or regulations are met. Because of this, it eliminates the need for an intermediary or paperwork. 

Blockchain cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are fast replacing other physical mediums of exchange. NFTs are rising, and there are endless opportunities to transact on blockchain technology. 

The immutability, transparency, and integrity of blockchain mitigate the risks of cyberattacks. As highlighted above, it’s not a panacea to the challenges in cybersecurity. This new method is more secure than other centralized systems. 

Javvy Technologies, a cryptocurrency exchange company, utilizes blockchain to facilitate secure payments. The application is integrated with artificial intelligence features that enable it to detect fraudulent activities. It is not web-based, making it safer for users to store, use and invest in cryptocurrency. 

Data Interoperability 

Achieving true interoperability is a major concern for most industries, especially in the health sector. Patient data is now a primary target for cybercriminals, as it is more comprehensive and insightful than other records. Also, it is costlier. Research reveals that each data may cost up to $50 on the black market. But blockchain might be a potential solution to this challenge. Blockchain technology (BCT) uses a peer-to-peer framework that helps faster and more accurate verification of data claims. 

Blockchain architecture is built on decentralization and cryptography. People can have complete control over their data and how it is shared. Also, blockchain technology is ideal when accountability and trust are vital. 

Philips Healthcare, a health technology company, is a perfect example. They focus on integrating AI with blockchain to create a more secure health system. By partnering, they can secure all types of data–whether administrative or financial–collected by health organizations. 

Secure Data 

Data security might be the most appreciable potential of blockchain. All companies, including the fortune 500, are data-centric. Securing data is a critical factor for any business in the world. Blockchain offers a tamper-proof system that helps users guarantee the authenticity of data. 

It’s no news that blockchain technology operates as a decentralized ledger technology. The lack of a central authority coupled with the need for a consensus between nodes to verify data makes it more secure. 

For instance, the Australian Government is pioneering a blockchain-centered ecosystem to secure data. By partnering with IBM, the Government intends to spur tech innovations by developing blockchain and AI solutions for cybersecurity and data management. 

Secure Activities On The Supply Chain 

The supply chain management system currently lacks the transparency and integrity required to operate at optimal levels. Missing orders, payment delays, or inventory data are mistakes in the supply chain. These transactions, most times, are untraceable. Blockchain can improve the supply chain by enhancing product traceability, improving communication systems, and creating a more cost-efficient means of delivering products. 

Lockheed Martin, an American aerospace and defense company, is leading the adoption of blockchain in its protocol. By partnering with Guardtime Federal to produce blockchain cybersecurity protocol strategies. This new development will significantly improve supply chain risk management, engineering system, and software development. 

Improve The Security Of IoT Products 

The IoT market is increasing significantly. Everything can be wirelessly interconnected, from smart door locks to wearable health monitors. Despite the promising features, IoT isn’t exempted from the crippling effects of cyberattacks. Integrating blockchain and IoT will add an extra layer of security that keeps cybercriminals. The relationship will bridge the vulnerability gap, making IoT devices more secure and less prone to attacks. 

Cisco, a networking giant, based in California, is already coupling IoT and BCT. They believe the decentralized and cryptographic nature of blockchain will strengthen the security of IoT devices. Also, they have already liaised with Rockwell Automation and Flex to establish a blockchain system to facilitate the company’s major processes. 

Barriers To Implementing Blockchain In Cybersecurity 

Organizations may have questions when integrating blockchain into their current cybersecurity protocols like any new technology. There are several reasons to justify this, and here are the top five. 

Scalability And Latency Issues May Arise 

When there are numerous transactions to process, blockchain may become slow. Compared to a centralized company like Visa, which verifies transactions at 17000 TPS (transaction per second), the bitcoin blockchain can only handle 4.6 TPS. This is because to validate information on the chain, it must download the previous transactions. This implies the longer the chain, the more scalability issues persist. Aside from this, several other reasons, like latency, reduce the speed of blockchain transactions. This can be a huge turn-off in this fast-paced world where transactions are expected to be completed in a twinkle. 

Government Regulations:

BCT is yet to be regulated in some locations, which is a downside for many organizations interested in using the technology. Usually, people are scared to venture into anything without adequate regulatory policies. This has reduced the mass adoption of blockchain technology in the cybersecurity industry. 

Might Be Costly For Start-Ups 

Overriding the current cyber security system with blockchain isn’t cheap. The costs of hiring a blockchain expert and maintenance make it unaffordable for start-ups or small business owners. 

Public Perception 

Many are still unaware of the benefits of blockchain technology. Since Bitcoin is more popular than the tech, it is often mistaken for cryptocurrencies. Yet, blockchain benefits are widely spread beyond the borders of financial transactions. There is a need to educate people on the perks of using technology daily. 

The Future Of Blockchain and Cybersecurity 

Blockchain technology is already turning the cyber world around from securing IoT devices to securing relevant data to ensuring data transparency and availability. Although it’s at the early stages of its adoption, there are speculations that the technology has many unexplained benefits. 

Organizations implementing blockchain into their current cybersecurity practices are experiencing decreased cyberattacks and more efficient ways to improve workflow. No doubt, blockchain is going to revolutionize the cybersecurity industry. 

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