Will Blockchain Strengthen Cybersecurity?


  • Nir Kshetri, Research Fellow, Kobe University, and Professor, University of North Carolina-Greensboro, USA


Blockchain—a kind of distributed ledger technology-- has been described in the popular press as the next big thing. Among its many practical applications, blockchain is also known for robust cybersecurity. This presentation evaluates blockchain’s roles in strengthening cybersecurity and protecting privacy. Since most of the data is currently stored in cloud data centers, it also compares how blockchain performs vis-vis the cloud in various aspects of security and privacy. Key underlying mechanisms related to the blockchain’s impacts on the Internet of Things (IoT) security are also covered. From the security and privacy considerations, it highlights how blockchain-based solutions could be, in many aspects, superior to the current IoT ecosystem, which mainly relies on centralized cloud servers through service providers. In this regard, for one thing, there is a deep thirst for a foolproof method for confirmed identity in IoT applications. The first of blockchain's direct benefits is that it provides a possible solution to identity management.

An illustration will be presented to show blockchain’s role in strengthening cybersecurity in supply chain management. Blockchain can be used in a supply chain to know who is performing what actions. Additionally, time and location of the actions can be determined. Blockchain thus facilitates valid and effective measurement of outcomes and performance of key processes in supply chain and other market-facing problems. Once the inputs tracking data are on a blockchain ledger, they are immutable. Other suppliers in the chain can also track shipments, deliveries, and progress. In this way, blockchain produces trust among supply chain partners. By eliminating middleman auditors, efficiency can be increased and costs can be lowered. Individual suppliers can perform their own checks and balances on a near real time basis. With blockchain, it is possible to access immutable records for various aspects of transactions involving a product to understand key vulnerabilities in the upstream supply chain. This technology can also help strengthen downstream supply chain partners’ and device owners’ precautionary and defensive cybersecurity measures.

Using practical applications and real-world examples, the presentation thus argues that blockchain’s decentralized feature is likely to result in a low susceptibility to manipulation and forgery by malicious participants. Special consideration is also given to how blockchain-based identity and access management systems can address some of the key challenges associated with IoT security. The presentation provides a detailed analysis and description of blockchain’s roles in tracking the sources of insecurity in supply chains related to IoT devices. The presentation also delves into how blockchain can make it possible to contain an IoT security breach in a targeted way after it is discovered. It also discusses and evaluates initiatives of organizations, inter-organizational networks and industries on this front.

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