The Key to Security: Combining IOT and Blockchain Technology

Obasi Nwosu 20 Feb, 2023 • 8 min read

Introduction

The world is becoming more connected daily, and increased vulnerability comes with increased connectivity. The Internet of Things (IoT) connects everyday devices to the internet, creating a web of interconnected devices that are exposed to hackers and vulnerable to attack. This article explains how to combine IoT and Blockchain for security.
IoT and Blockchain
Blockchain technology, which is the foundation of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, could play a crucial role in enhancing the security of the IoT. This technology could be used to secure communications between IoT devices, making it difficult for hackers to gain access to sensitive information or control over the devices. Blockchain could strengthen the security of the entire IoT ecosystem, ensuring that connected devices and networks are more secure than ever before.

This article examines IoT security issues and explores how blockchain technology can be utilized to secure IoT devices.

This article was published as a part of the Data Science Blogathon.

Table of Contents

Definition of IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) has seen significant growth in recent years and is expected to continue to expand rapidly. IoT Analytics predicts that by 2025, there will be over 27 billion connected devices globally.

IoT and Blockchain Difference

Source: IoT Analytics

IoT is a network of physical devices and objects embedded with sensors, software, and connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data.

The IoT is essentially the idea that everyday objects, from household appliances to industrial machinery, can be connected to the internet and each other, creating a seamless network of information exchange.

This network of connected devices has the potential to revolutionize the way we live and work by automating mundane tasks, increasing efficiency, and providing valuable insights into our environment. Imagine your fridge being able to order groceries automatically when it runs low on milk or your car alerting you when it needs an oil change. These are just a few examples of the endless possibilities that the IoT offers.

Definition of Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology is a powerful and revolutionary force changing how we think about data security and transparency. At its core, blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger that records transactions across a network of computers. This creates a secure and tamper-proof record of each transaction, making it ideal for use in various industries and applications.

Perhaps best known for its use in the world of cryptocurrencies, blockchain is also used to secure supply chains, manage financial transactions, and even protect personal identification. This is because blockchain’s decentralized nature means there is no central point of control, making it almost impossible to hack or tamper with.

But blockchain technology is not just about security. It also can increase transparency and efficiency in a wide range of industries. By providing real-time access to data, blockchain can help businesses make better decisions and improve their bottom line.

Security Challenges of IoT

IoT devices are prone to cyber attacks due to their lack of built-in security measures. These devices, often low-power and with limited computational capabilities, are vulnerable to threats that can easily hijack them and launch attacks against critical systems. The number of security breaches in IoT devices continues to rise, with 1.51 billion breaches occurring between January and June 2021 alone. This is a significant increase from the 639 million breaches reported by Kaspersky for the entire year of 2020.

To fully grasp the significance of blockchain technology as a solution to the security challenges faced by IoT, we must first have a thorough understanding of the risks and vulnerabilities inherent in IoT and how blockchain technology could be used to tackle them. Some of the common vulnerabilities include;

Security Challenges in IoT and Blockchain

IoT Malware and Hacking

Cybercriminals always look for known vulnerabilities in IoT devices, turning them into “zombie” botnets. The Mirai botnet attack of 2016 is a prime example, using thousands of compromised household IoT devices to launch a devastating DDoS campaign against high-profile sites and services.

Weak Passwords

Using weak, default, and hard-coded passwords in IoT devices is a major security challenge facing the industry. These types of passwords can be easily cracked by attackers, granting them access to the device and enabling them to launch botnets and malware. Managing passwords in a distributed IoT ecosystem is difficult, especially when devices are managed remotely.

Insecure Network

Hackers target IoT devices by exploiting weaknesses in communication protocols and services to access sensitive information. Man-in-the-middle (MITM) is an example of an attack resulting from an insecure network. The attacks aim to capture authentication credentials and launch further attacks. It’s crucial to secure IoT communications using best practices in the industry.

Lack of standardization in IoT

The absence of standardization in IoT security is a major concern. With so many different devices from various manufacturers, it can take time to ensure that every single one has the proper level of security. This makes it harder to implement security measures and allows hackers to exploit vulnerabilities. And let’s be real, who wants that? It’s also a pain for security professionals, who may not be familiar with the specific protocols and technologies used by different devices, making it harder to detect and respond to potential threats.

The Security Benefits of Blockchain Technology to IoT

Blockchain technology can improve the security of Internet of Things (IoT) devices by providing enhanced data privacy. Its decentralized nature also makes it difficult for hackers to target a single point of vulnerability. The technology can provide improved authentication and increased resistance to tampering and fraud, making it a valuable tool for securing IoT systems and protecting sensitive data.

Let’s examine the various technical implementations of blockchain in securing IoT devices.

Decentralized Systems

Blockchain technology can be used to secure IoT systems in various ways. One way is by creating a decentralized system for device authentication and communication. Each IoT device can be connected to the blockchain network and given a unique digital identity, which can be verified through the use of digital signatures and smart contracts. This eliminates the need for a central authority to authenticate devices, allowing for secure communication between them.

Another way blockchain can be used is by creating tamper-proof records of sensor data from IoT devices. The data is recorded on the blockchain in a decentralized manner, making it almost impossible to alter or tamper with. This is beneficial in applications such as supply chain tracking, where the integrity of sensor data is essential.

Immutable Ledger

Another implementation is using blockchain to create an immutable record of all device interactions and communications. This record can be used to detect and prevent unauthorized access or alteration of IoT devices. By recording all interactions on an immutable ledger, it becomes much more difficult for malicious actors to compromise the security of IoT systems.

Smart Contracts

Another implementation is using smart contracts to control IoT devices and data access. Smart contracts can be programmed only to allow authorized access to devices and data and restrict the actions authorized users can take. This can be used to ensure that only authorized parties can access sensitive information and control IoT devices and that any unauthorized access is immediately detected and prevented.

Cryptographic Security

Blockchain technology can secure communication between IoT devices through the use of public-key cryptography. This allows for the secure exchange of information between devices without needing any intermediary. Each device is assigned a unique pair of public and private keys to encrypt and decrypt messages.

Authentication of devices can also be achieved by using digital signatures. This verifies the identity of a device and confirms that it is not counterfeit or maliciously modified. This helps prevent unauthorized access or control of IoT devices.

Combining IoT and Blockchain Technology

IoT and blockchain technology work together in a symbiotic way to significantly increase the security of IoT devices. A novel solution is provided by this combination in which the advantages of each technology are used to improve the system as a whole. The main objective is to address IoT security issues by developing a network that prioritizes user privacy and security.

Imagine having complete control over the data collected by your IoT devices, only allowing it to be used according to your preferences and ensuring your privacy at all times. Because of its tamper-proof and immutable properties, blockchain’s decentralized model eliminates the need for a central authority and improves efficiency, security, and data integrity. This provides IoT device owners with more control and privacy. Blockchain is used to secure IoT in the following ways:

  • Use of blockchain to secure communication between IoT devices
  • Use of smart contracts to automate device management
  • Use of blockchain to secure data generated by IoT devices

IoT and Blockchain Difference

Use cases of IoT and Blockchain Technology

Blockchain and IoT, sometimes referred to as BIoT, can find real-life use in the following area:

Supply Chain Management

One major use case of IoT and blockchain technology is supply chain management. By integrating IoT devices such as sensors and RFID tags with a blockchain network, companies can create a decentralized and secure system for tracking products as they move through the supply chain. Each step in the process can be recorded on the blockchain, creating an immutable record of the product’s journey from manufacturer to consumer. This allows for greater transparency and accountability in the supply chain, as well as the ability to trace the origin of any issues that may arise quickly.

Additionally, using digital signatures and smart contracts, the authenticity of each step in the supply chain can be verified, ensuring that the products are not counterfeit or tampered with.

Smart Cities

Integrating IoT and blockchain technology can significantly improve smart city infrastructure. By utilizing IoT devices to gather data on city operations and blockchain technology to store and process this data securely, cities can make informed decisions to improve residents’ efficiency and quality of life.

For example, traffic patterns and public transportation usage data can be collected and analyzed to optimize traffic flow and transportation routes. Additionally, blockchain-based systems can be used to create secure, transparent systems for voting and community engagement.

Overall, the combination of IoT and blockchain technology has the potential to enhance the functionality and livability of smart cities greatly.

Healthcare

The combination of IoT and blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the healthcare industry. By securely tracking and sharing medical data, patients can receive better care and the healthcare system can become more efficient. One example is wearable medical devices to gather data and send it to a blockchain network. This allows for real-time monitoring of a patient’s health, leading to early detection and treatment of any potential issues whilst keeping patients’ medical records secured.

Conclusion

In conclusion, blockchain technology is a game-changer in the realm of data security and has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with our connected devices. As the world becomes more connected, blockchain technology will play a crucial role in ensuring that these connected devices are secure and protected from potential cyber-attacks.
Below are some of the Key Takeaways:

  • Blockchain technology is a powerful force in the realm of data security.
  • It provides a decentralized ledger that is near-impossible to hack or getting tampered.
  • Blockchain technology can provide enhanced data privacy and security to IoT devices.
  • The decentralized nature of blockchain technology makes it difficult for cybercriminals to target a single point of vulnerability.
  • IoT and blockchain technology can provide unparalleled security for connected devices and networks.

The media shown in this article is not owned by Analytics Vidhya and is used at the Author’s discretion. 

Obasi Nwosu 20 Feb 2023

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