Everyone has heard all of the terms such as blockchain, security, secure IoT data, cryptocurrency, etc. But the popularity of these technologies has been on the rise and will continue to be an issue in the future. But, how can blockchain help secure IoT data? Blockchain was earlier associated only with cryptocurrencies. Now blockchain technology is being used for many purposes.

The way data spreads across the chain (blockchain) is proving to be useful in many other ways. IoT or Internet of Things is a technology that allows all devices to communicate with each other — without the need for human intervention. This technology is used even in small gadgets like fitness trackers — up to more substantial uses — like driverless vehicles. We’ll take a look at how blockchain can help secure the data generated by IoT.

We all know what Blockchain is by now.

Originally, people only used blockchain for trading in cryptocurrencies. It is valuable as a ledger where individual members make the entries with the consent of other members. The data gets stored in different blocks across the chain. In this ledger, it is not easy to create the blocks. There is a lot of processing and time to create even one block. There is a reference to the previous entries in each block and in this way — it forms a chain.

Though it is challenging to create a block — it is equally challenging to tamper with the information in a block.

An individual or company would have to tamper with all of the blocks to get into even one block — which is almost impossible. The incredible technology that goes into the creation of the chain in the first place is what makes the data more reliable — and safe.  

Another unique feature of blockchain technology is that there is no centralized agency which controls the data. The members themselves manage the activities in the group. Keep away from a center lotus of control makes the blockchain data more reliable and dependable because there is no central authority which anyone can manipulate or corrupt.

The problem with most data storage is that it is held on location in one place and easy for attackers to target.

If a hacker can breach one small place — they get access to all the data. With blockchain technology, the data exists in blocks across the chain, making it almost impossible for anyone to breach and steal the data. The very logistics and firm parameters of the system make the technology ideal for safe data storage.

Advantages Of Blockchain Technology

How the blockchain technology can be used to protect data is seen in the benefits of this technology. This system helps in keeping the data safe and make it more reliable because if the data is safe, it can’t be corrupted and messed with or touched.

The first point in a blockchain is that all members in the chain verify every entry.

It makes the data entirely genuine. The information once entered in the blocks cannot be edited or deleted. It means that everyone can see every entry. There is no way to hide any information. Other people claim transparency — but is there any other way for real transparency?

The blockchain technology for cryptocurrencies works very well as there is no centralized authority checking or controlling the transactions. It means that there is no need to pay anything to a third party. As there is no need for anyone to check, this system also helps in saving time.

The data in a blockchain lies scattered along the chain.

The pieces of data get embedded in the blocks. Embedded in the block means that there is no place where all you store all the data. If someone wants to steal the data, there is no single place to target. The attackers would have to take data from many many blocks — all along the chain — which is an impossible task. This creation of technology makes your data safe from being stolen.

  • There are no false entries as everyone has to authorize each entry in the blockchain.
  • There is no way to edit or delete data. You can safely say that all entries are genuine.
  • As there is no central controlling authority, there are no chances of manipulation.

IoT Explained

How do top blockchain developers help us use this technology for securing the data in IoT? Though the term IoT has been popular for years, it is still not something that everyone knows fully. If you define IoT in simple terms, it is a system having devices which are connected and can communicate among themselves and with the outside environment. This communication means that the internet can function without human intervention. The smart homes of today work with this technology. It has got a lot of uses.

In an IoT system, devices or their parts can communicate with each other or with outside sources.

IoT can help us to know how well the parts are working for varied tech in our homes or communities. IoT allows technicians to know when they have to change a part in an appliance, or computer. The system gives complete information about the working and health of the device. These systems use the internet to stay connected. They also connect to the outside environment through the internet. An IoT app in a smartphone controls the IoT devices.

These systems generate a lot of data which gets stored in cloud storage systems.

  • IoT or internet of things is a system with connected devices that can communicate with each other without human intervention.
  • The devices use the internet to connect among themselves and to the outside environment.
  • In many machineries, IoT helps us know the health of each component as they communicate with each other.
  • A smartphone controls these devices.
  • An IoT systems a large amount of data from communication.

How Is IoT Useful To Us?

One of the common uses of IoT that we see around us is in smart homes. In such houses, one device can control all the devices from one point inside the home. The devices all communicate among themselves and with the controlling device, which is usually a mobile phone or other smart home systems. Apart from controlling these devices, you can also monitor their performance from anywhere through your smartphones.

For instance, the system in my home alerted my phone that there was a carbon monoxide leak in the downstairs bedrooms.

I had family that had come into town and needed a place to stay until I returned in two more days. I called a repair person and had them go to my home and check for a leak. The repair guy could get in the house because I also had a smart door which I unlocked for him.

The leak was actually the neighbors spraying a toxic substance in their yard, but my smart IoT sensors picked that up. The repair person was kind enough to open all of the windows, and I could check the levels of toxicity from my phone. When the relatives came back from shopping — all they were greeted with is open windows, which I had texted them explaining the reason. What they were not greeted with is an undetectable gas that could have made them very ill or worse.

In many companies, these gadgets and they connect the devices to the IT network.

In this system, also the IoT technology is used. It helps offices to control the tools and get the maximum potential out of them. It helps them save on power bills. In big factories or where there is a lot of machinery, IoT helps in knowing the exact wear status of each part. It helps the company in changing the components at the right time.

It helps them plan their maintenance break and avoid unplanned stopping of work.

The technology also helps avert breakdowns. One of the primary uses of IoT is the information that these systems provide. IoT generates a massive amount of data. All these data points are useful to decide future actions. The companies can study the data and know what future actions will save them money.

Another common usage of IoT is in monitoring fitness trackers.

Fitness trackers connect to smartphones. They continue to give various types of data about our movements, our heartbeat, pulse rate, etc. When we undergo medical examinations, doctors can use all these data to know our health condition.

  • IoT is the technology that we use for smart homes. It helps us control devices from anywhere.
  • Companies use IoT to connect the various gadgets and devices in the office.
  • Connecting and monitoring the devices helps companies to save money on power bills.
  • IoT helps factories monitor their big machineries. It helps them know how good each of the parts is.
  • Information about the various parts in machinery helps in timely maintenance and replacement of components.
  • IoT helps avoid sudden breakdowns as we get real-time information about various parts of the machine.
  • IoT generates a vast amount of data which are useful to companies for future action.
  • Fitness trackers use IoT to collect and send vital data to smartphones. It helps us when we go for medical check-ups.

Security Challenges In IoT

In the present IoT system, all the data gets authenticated centrally.

The data passes through security and is considered safe. All the devices in an IoT environment connect to the internet. Each piece of data gets stored in convenient cloud storage. Anyone with access to cloud storage can alter or steal the data. This access has become a threat that IoT faces today.

Companies are vying with each other in supplying the maximum number of IoT devices.

The number of such devices is going to be huge in another ten years. It means that the hackers have more ways to get at your data. These unethical hackers can enter the system through any of the devices and reach the central data storage. In 2016 we saw such an attack which affected almost all the IoT devices. There was a widespread Distributed Denial Of Service (DDoS) attack by criminals.

With the IoT information distributed, people realized the seriousness of such a security lapse. The spread of IoT is so vast it touches almost every industry. There are a large amount of data that IoT generates. In the case of healthcare, the data of all the patients’ health will be available.

Consider a breach in the data storage of an insurance company.

The attackers can get access to the personal information of millions of people. The attackers can disrupt the system and take money to restore it. The threat of the black hat hacker is real and always has been. We’ve just made the hacking easier for them with unprotected systems. Consider a scenario where all the devices connect to your IT network sit. Hackers can enter through the smallest of the tools at the edge of the system.

Think about the information connected in your home or company.

The attacker can gain access to all the information in your IT network, including passwords, bank accounts, etc. It would be child’s play for an expert hacker — or even a lower level hacker to introduce ransomware and stop the function of all devices, especially in one location.

Surveillance cameras are another severe threat. As the controls are centralized, an entry into the system — who is going to protect these systems?

High-level police officers don’t even understand this type of security- systems work. This problem should be addressed at the police academy — and access to the basics should be required for our basic protections. The police have to call in the experts if they even suspect a problem. Do we want this information sitting out on a desk in a police station? How about security surveillance sitting on the counter at the local convenience store? One camera can provide access to all the surveillance cameras in that area.

To have access to all cameras on site is the ideal way to plan a burglary.

They will know exactly where everything is. The reasons are not always as simple as the thought that a hacker is trying to gain something. There are criminal-minded people whose only aim is to disrupt someone’s life — and even more — some just want to — watch. Such people can easily breach the lax security of IoT system and stop our whole system from working. Just imagine sitting there, unable to operate anything in your office.

Is there a way out of this problem? How can we ensure the security of the system? How can we protect the vast amount of data which IoT accumulates? The answer seems to come from another disruptive technology which revolutionized data processing.

The blockchain is a system that stores data differently.

  • The data in an IoT get stored in the cloud storage. Internet connects all the devices.
  • The supply of IoT devices is increasing exponentially.
  • Hackers can enter the system through any device.
  • The episode of service disruption in 2016 is an example of a security breach.
  • IoT generates a lot of information, including personal data. Attackers can steal information for selfish gains.
  • Hackers can steal other important information like passwords and bank details.
  • Criminals can also use surveillance cameras to see the full plan of your house or office.
  • There is a need to protect the data from such attacks.

How Can Blockchain Help In Securing IoT?

The blockchain is a decentralized system which can help in solving the problems of scalability, reliability, and privacy in IoT. The blockchain can enable tracking of the billions of devices. Blockchain technology can assist in processing the transactions and coordination between different tools in the system. The decentralized nature of the blockchain system will help in distributing data and eliminate attacks at single points.

The blockchain technology will make the ecosystem more secure and resistant to attacks.

Consumer data will remain safer under such an environment. Also, the blockchain technology has proved itself in the cryptocurrency transactions. It means that you can have peer-to-peer payment systems making a central authority unnecessary.

IoT blockchain technology allows our messaging between devices and individuals. As the data lie scattered in the ledger, it is impossible to tamper it. Also, the blockchain system lets you maintain the history of smart devices. You cannot alter it in any way. The intelligent devices can function autonomously without the need for a central controlling authority.

This technology will make way for newer scenarios that were difficult to achieve in the IoT system.

You should also think about integrating Chatbots into Blockchain and IoT. Chatbots can help you to execute and validate interactions on Blockchain and IoT. For that purpose, you can gain an understanding of the concept of Chatbot in detail.

IoT solutions can make secure and trusted messages between devices with the help of blockchain. The technology treats all words like financial transactions in cryptocurrency dealing. Smart contracts will be used to complete conditions in an agreement before exchange of messages takes place between devices. Blockchain technology can help smart devices to do financial transactions without the need for a centralized agency.

This type of system will itself verify the validity of the transactions as members have to give consent to do the transaction. It means that trust is assured.

One of the best advantages is that blockchain will help IoT to maintain a ledger of all transactions occurring in the network. It can assist in ensuring compliance and regulatory requirements of IoT in industries without the presence of a centralized authority. There are many exciting possibilities in IoT with the adoption of blockchain technology. However, the top advantage remains the safety of IoT data because the data spread across the chain.

Any modern IoT application development company can use blockchain technology and create a dApp which will help in securing data.

  • The blockchain is a decentralized system that can help track the billions of devices.
  • It is possible to distribute data and protect from attacks.
  • You cannot alter data in a blockchain.
  • Blockchain allows you to use smart contracts to satisfy agreements before the exchange of messages.
  • This system allows IoT to maintain a ledger of all transactions.
  • Blockchain ensures the safety of data in IoT.

Challenges In Incorporating Blockchain in IoT

Though it looks like the best and easy solution for securing data in an IoT environment, it is far from being perfect. The only consolation is that IoT itself is not fully developed, and hence, it will be easy to integrate blockchain technology into the system.

The blockchain is effective in protecting the data in a cryptocurrency ledger because the job is only to move the currency from one person to another. Blockchain will help in doing this without the supervision of any central authority. But to control a network of devices in different layers may prove to be more challenging.

There must be a suitable framework to prevent unlawful interferences.

You should be able to eliminate a corrupted device from the system automatically. It can stop the spread of malware. There should be an easy way to add or remove accessories from the blockchain. The blockchain protocol requires that to gain control of the system, one would need the support or consent of the majority of the entities in the group. It will be difficult in a network of devices that exist in a large area. But when it comes to a small system like a home, the manipulation of the majority of devices could prove easy.

The smaller devices that work at home are not equipped to handle the computing power that a blockchain system requires. It means that anyone can breach the security.

The idea put forth by many is to have a watered-down version of the blockchain, which is still better than a central authority.

  • The blockchain is still not the perfect solution, but you can adapt it for securing IoT data.
  • Controlling a lot of devices in a system may be difficult for blockchain technology in the present form.
  • Experts must develop a suitable framework to prevent unauthorized interferences.
  • There must be a way to eliminate corrupt devices from the system.
  • Manipulation of devices in a small system is possible even with blockchain technology.
  • Smaller devices don’t have the computing power to support the blockchain system.
  • The way out may be a diluted version of the blockchain.

Conclusion

It is quite evident that IoT is here to grow and expand. But the danger to the data that the technology generates is also a reality. There is sensitive data which might be subject to attacks and theft. There is a need to address this issue. The blockchain is a technology which seems right for the job with its decentralized data storage.

Another suggestion is to have blockchain software developers who would develop the dApp and have the dApp further the  control of smart devices at the office and ensure safety from breaches.

dApp is an abbreviated form for decentralized application. The dApp has its backend code running on a decentralized peer-to-peer network. It is a technology that could be the answer for attacks on data storage. But there is a need for further fine-tuning when it comes to the vast networks of devices.

Harikrishna Kundariya

CEO

Harikrishna Kundariya, a marketer, developer, IoT, ChatBot & Blockchain savvy, designer, co-founder, Director of eSparkBiz @Mobile Application Development Company. His 8+ experience enables him to provide digital solutions to new start-ups based on IoT and ChatBot. A ChatBot Development Company, eSparkbiz has reached to greater heights with his immense contribution.