By James Jones, President of RaceIQ Engineering and Brenda Nguyen, Brand Manager at RaceIQ Engineering
Some of us may have heard of Blockchain when it was first originally devised for the ever so popular cryptocurrency Bitcoin, but now the tech community is finding new ways to implement this technology. Lucky for us, we don’t have to understand how Blockchain works in order to use it. However, having a basic understanding of this new technology will help us understand why it is considered revolutionary and how this will impact the cybersecurity community.
So what is Blockchain and how will we be able to use it?
Authors of Blockchain Revolution Don and Alex Tapscott explain that “Blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value” (2016). It has a wide array of uses and can be used as “smart contracts,” which can be executed automatically when certain conditions are met. The sharing economy will enable peer to peer payments and eliminate intermediaries all the way to governance and identity management. Some other uses can be to protect intellectual property, manage supply chain auditing, file storage, market predictions and stock trading. It is pretty much the new Internet 3.0.
After a recent panel discussion in Montreal, I recalled a conversation where a CEO of a rising financial insurance startup commented, “Finally as a CEO, I no longer have to worry about information security at my company. This will eliminate my security concerns and most importantly my customers’ security concerns if we build our product and services by using this technology.”
Can the Blockchain protocol really provide a care-free level of security? The Pentagon is certainly interested and the engineers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funding development in the technology today. “Blockchain could prevent hackers and terrorist from attacking military networks, including connected vehicles, aircraft and satellites” (Althauser, 2017).
What does this mean for Info-Sec and C-Sec companies today?
If the banking, retail, manufacturing, energy, telecommunications, health care or any big data-based industry assess, adopt and deploy Blockchain-based infrastructure and solutions, how will that change consumer data as we know it today? The Blockchain technology is based on a high level of trust – trust that is derived from decades of cryptography research. When the technology is used, the data is encrypted, decentralized, transparent, immutable, auditable and so far proven to be operationally sound. The protocol uses “smart-contracts” that remove an apparent flaw in security today, the human-element. Blockchain could even help eliminate the need for passwords soon and support Keyless Signature Infrastructure (KSI). Couple this with distribution of data only accessible to the one or those with the private keys (public and private blockchains) and the minimized reliance (in most cases elimination) of intermediaries, making this extremely cost-efficient and ultra convenient. Who can argue with the assumption that Blockchain is the answer to their security nightmares?
Sure, Blockchain is secure and CEOs and corporations can trust that the data transactions stored on the protocol’s ledger are accurate and immutable because amending the ledger would mean literally amending every single digital version of the ledger at the exact same moment in time. Today, it is computationally impossible even with us being on the horizon of affordable quantum computing power.
However, what CEOs and corporations have to remember is that ‘smart contracts’ and the ledger are public and transparent. The data residing on the Blockchain still must be encrypted, possess security controls and have procedures in place to ensure corporations “smart contracts” don’t contain flaws in the code that would allow hackers to write themselves (or their digital wallets) into the contracts to phish data. Corporations are going to need to be responsible for due diligence on multiple levels now in a space (in this case a code stream) in which their entire industry may be completely unfamiliar.
“The potential of Blockchain is unimaginable today. It could truly be a game-changer in several capacities” (James T. Jones, President of RaceIQ Engineering).
However, we are at a time where large corporations, their consumers and their employees are just really beginning to understand the importance of security in a digital age and are no longer leaving it as an afterthought. With Blockchain on the horizon and posed here to stay, these same corporations and consumers should not assume their digital footprint is secure solely on the Blockchain protocol. Traditional Info-Sec and C-Sec controls and procedures are needed now more than ever as we reach the hyper-digital age where every device we possess will be connected and all of our data will reside somewhere in cyberspace.
Atlanta is home to some of the nation’s top Information Security and Cybersecurity companies that will help your corporation maintain its security before and even after your organization adopts Blockchain technology.
Registration for Atlanta Cyber Week events, including Cybercon, will close very soon. We encourage CISOs, startups and others involved in the cybersecurity community to sign up for the events they plan on attending ASAP. Spaces are limited. Visit www.atlcyberweek.com and cybercon.us for more information.