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Blockchain: A possible antidote for cybercrime?

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To win the battle of cybersecurity, Blockchain is emerging as one such solution that can help make breakthroughs in ensuring a secure and safe online world.

India especially, through its recent colossal growth of IT enablement and cloud first ‘Digital India’ initiatives, has even greater requirements for proactive network monitoring practices.

Mr. Ram Baranidhran, Co- CTO, NNT, a cloud-native company acquired by Infogain.

As the world digitizes in a rapid fashion, the associated risks have also increased manifold.

Cybercrime – Criminal activities involving computers and the internet – has grown significantly. Victims lost an estimated USD 6.9 billion in internet enabled crimes in 2021.

Advances in the fields of Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) means that virtually all devices that we interact with have a technology component and are usually connected to the internet as well. From intelligent vacuum cleaners, health monitoring wearables, Bluetooth enabled door locks to a vast array of digital payment options technology is embedded with every aspect of our lives. While all these solutions make our lives easier it also means that we are leaving behind a digital trail which if not guarded properly can be misused in many ways.  This is where cybersecurity becomes paramount.

Gartner defines Cybersecurity as the practice of deploying people, policies, processes, and technologies to protect organizations, their critical systems and sensitive information from digital attacks. Businesses recognize the importance of Cybersecurity and have started investing heavily in this space. The global cyber security market was valued in excess of USD 150 billion in 2021 and will only grow further.

Blockchain has the potential to be a key element in the cybersecurity space. The intrinsic properties of Blockchain allow for building trust in any system while ensuring that data cannot be tampered with. Blockchain is a shared distributed ledger that can store date ensuring immutability and anonymity.

A blockchain is a safeguard tool for keeping the data stored through cryptography. According to industry reports, blockchain is becoming a promise to reality and an indeed integral part to organizational innovation today. Business leaders are putting money and resources behind the technology in more meaningful and tangible ways which is making the IT industry grow exponentially. A market report suggests, in India alone, 56% of businesses are adopting blockchain technology and making it a part of their core business.

A few key properties of blockchain are:

  1. Immutable: Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data (generally represented as a Merkle tree). It ensures that data, once recorded, cannot be altered unless the entire chain is altered – which is not computationally feasible.
  2. Distributed (Decentralized): The Blockchain represents a distributed network of nodes that share the ledger. Public blockchains are also decentralized, which means that anyone can host a node and join the blockchain network.
  3. Unanimous: All nodes in the blockchain network agree on a block before its recorded-on chain, ensuring a common view of data.
  4. Anonymous: The identity of the participants is anonymous or pseudonymous.
  5. Traceable: While identity is secure, all actions on blockchain are traceable.

A common model used in developing security systems is the Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability triad (CIA triad). Blockchain intrinsically satisfies all these.

  • Confidentiality is ensuring that data is kept secret. Blockchain uses public private key encryption to encrypt data ensuring that only the right person has access to data. Smart contracts using homomorphic encryption can perform computations on encrypted data without decrypting it making systems more secure.
  • Integrity is ensuring that data is accurate and trustworthy I.e., it has not been tampered with. Data stored on a blockchain is immutable and all modifications on blockchain are traceable.
  • Availability is ensuring that the right people have access to the data at all times. Blockchain is a distributed system with public blockchains also being decentralized. This increases data availability significantly as disrupting the network requires significant resources. Also, as blockchain is distributed, failures of a few nodes will not cause the blockchain to stop.

A few areas where blockchain can be used for cyber security are:

  • Financial sector – Blockchain has the power to revolutionize the financial sector by ensuring secure and tamperproof asset management. Several banks such as JP Morgan, Santander, Barclays have working with blockchain.
  • Healthcare sector – Healthcare involves the storage and use of sensitive patient data. Blockchain can be used to securely store data while ensuring that the data cannot be tampered with while also providing complete traceability.  Companies such as Aetna have partnered with IBM to build blockchain based solutions
  • Smart devices – The advent of IoT has made multiple devices around us smart leading to a proliferation of consumer data online. Blockchain can be used to ensure that this data is kept secure with access limited to relevant entities only. One initiative in this field is a partnership between Cisco and NEC to provide secure networking using Blockchain

Cybersecurity is a continuous battle against Cyber criminals who are constantly finding new ways to break systems and steal data. To win this battle, we need to ensure that the solutions are inherently strong, right down to the protocol level. Blockchain is emerging as one such solution that can help make breakthroughs in ensuring a secure and safe online world.

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