What is the role of Blockchain in cybersecurity?

blockchain for cyber security

Increasing reliance on computers, networks and the cloud has also augmented vulnerability to cyber threats. Today, organizations are at an increased risk of facing cyber attacks like data breaches. No wonder that today for any organization, one of their biggest cybersecurity concerns is data protection; data theft and breaches can have data protection measures that are insufficient and inefficient. Cyber-attacks have grown to become even more sophisticated, due to which demands for cybersecurity are increasingly growing. Relying on traditional information technology security controls is no longer enough for building the required cybersecurity protocols. Clearly, an intelligent and more sophisticated security solution is needed to reduce an organization’s cyber risk and potential cyber-attacks. Can Blockchain be an effective cybersecurity solution? With its properties like immutability, decentralization, and transparency, can Blockchain be an effective solution for businesses to improve their data security in the cyberworld?

Blockchain is a powerful innovation that brings positive changes to various industries, including finance, supply chain, food, insurance and many more. Entrepreneurs, policymakers and investors are increasingly adopting Blockchain technology to transform the way businesses communicate with other companies, regulators and customers. This insight article intends to explore the role of Blockchain as an effective solution for addressing critical cyberthreats with faster detection, mitigation and response capabilities.

Common forms of cyberattacks

common forms of cyber attacks

Malware

Malware is malicious software that compromises an organization’s data and damages the information system. It is introduced in various ways; for example, hackers use phishing campaigns to induce users to click on a malicious link or attachments that install malware on the user’s system. Malware helps to obtain users’ login credentials and other sensitive information submitted to illegitimate sources.

Web application attack/ Credential stuffing

The initial step in mining users’ data is a web application attack. The data obtained from the web application attack can form a part of an advanced brute force attack that uses stolen credentials to gain access to the users’ accounts. It is known as credential stuffing. The stolen credentials are systematically and repeatedly input to the website leveraging automated scripts. The hackers now can successfully access the users’ accounts, funds and financial data.

DDoS attack

Distributed Denial of Service attacks primarily targets large organizations. DDoS attacks send a stream of data traffic to a targeted site with the intent to overload the system and disrupt system operations permanently or temporarily. The cybersecurity controls established at each node in a Blockchain network provide an additional layer of security that contributes to perimeter defense in depth.

Man-in-the-Middle attack

MITM or Man-in-the-Middle attack is much like eavesdropping that involves an unauthorized actor positioning its access in transmissions between the user and the trusted party with the intent to intercept or capture the information. MITM attacks are of two types:

First, a standard attack involves an unauthorized entity within the target’s physical range which can access an unsecured network, such as a Wifi router.

The second type is the “Man-in-the-Browser” attack that involves the use of malware that is injected into a user’s system and, without the knowledge of the user, records the data being sent to a trusted third party website such as a bank.

Ransomware attack

The attackers threaten to block the organization’s access to their data unless it pays the hackers to get back the access. Mostly, financial institutions face such attacks given the importance of customer data.

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How does Blockchain work to improve cybersecurity?

Blockchain chaining process

The blocks in a Blockchain ledger are arranged in an order and composed together to execute transactions. A block consists of a header and a body. All the blocks are timestamped and signed by their creators. The blocks form a chain by defining a pointer to the previous block. The header contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, ensuring the immutability of the last block.

Distributed Architecture

A distributed network is operational resilient as it has no single point of failure. Risk is dispersed among multiple nodes and an attack on any single node or a few nodes would not compromise the ledger. Thus, decentralization makes the Blockchain network a less appealing target for ransomware attacks. In contrast, the centrally stored information is more susceptible to attacks than the information stored at multiple nodes.

A ransomware attack requires to compromise on all or most nodes in the network. However, restoring full service after the nodes has been compromised will not be instantaneous; there might be some latency effects on the network recovery.

Consensus validation mechanism

The consensus mechanism is used to validate new blocks of data confers. A prescribed member of nodes needs to reach a consensus on whether the new data block is valid and eligible for the shared ledger. The consensus mechanism implements a continuous check on the integrity of past transactions and new data blocks.

A hacker would need to co-opt the consensus mechanism by compromising enough nodes to manipulate the validation process and tamper with the ledger. The Blockchain network helps prevent such attacks by implementing sufficient nodes and leveraging network rules to obtain a consensus among nodes.

Encryption

Multiple forms of encryption are implemented at different levels, providing layered protection against cybersecurity threats. Cryptographic algorithms include asymmetric key algorithms and hash functions (SHA-256).

The linked lists and blocks are encrypted using hashes and digital signatures based on public/ private key encryption.

What are the use cases of Blockchain for cybersecurity?

use cases of blockchain for cybersecurity

Secure private messaging

A vast amount of metadata is collected through social media platforms and most of the users protect their services and data with weak and unreliable passwords. Many messaging companies are switching to Blockchain to provide end-to-end encryption and secure users’ data.

Blockchain is used to create a standard security protocol. It forms a unified API framework to enable cross-messenger communication capabilities.

The world has witnessed numerous attacks on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, causing data breaches and providing user information in the wrong hands. Blockchain technology prevents such cyberattacks.

IoT security

Hackers increasingly use devices like thermostats and routers to obtain access to the system. The vulnerable edge devices like Smart switches provide hackers easy access to the overall home automation system.

Blockchain efficiently secures such vulnerable systems and devices by decentralizing their administration. Blockchain combined with AI and IoT technology enables devices to make security decisions on their own. The independence of central authority makes the IoT devices more secure and allows them to detect and act on suspicious commands from unknown networks.

Secure DNS and DDoS

A Domain Name System (DNS) is a centralized system that makes it convenient for attackers to infiltrate the connection between IP address and the name of a website. DNS attack renders the website cashable, inaccessible and redirectable to other scam websites.

On the other hand, a DDoS attack occurs when a targetted resource such as a server or a website is denied service or access. Such attacks overload the site, dramatically slow down or shut down the resource system.

Fortunately, Blockchain technology eliminates such attacks by decentralizing the DNS entries. Decentralization removes the vulnerable single-point entry exploited by the attackers.

Provenance of software

MD5 message-digest cryptographic algorithm is widely used to implement security and verify activities, including firmware updates, patches, and installers, to prevent malware entry. The MD5 algorithm compares the new software identity to hashes available on the vendor website. It is not a complete foolproof algorithm and suffers from extensive vulnerabilities as the hashes available on the provider’s site may already be compromised.

Blockchain technology comes as a savior in such cases. Blockchain permanently records the hashes and doesn’t allow mutability. Hence, Blockchain proves to be more efficient in verifying software identity by comparing to hashes stored in the ledger.

Verification of cyber-physical infrastructures

System misconfiguration, data tampering and component failure have ruined the integrity of data generated from cyber-physical systems. The capabilities of Blockchain in maintaining data integrity and performing verification help authenticate the status of any cyber-physical infrastructure. Data generated on the physical infrastructure components via Blockchain is more assuring to the entire chain of custody.

Reduced human safety adversity caused by cyberattacks

Automated military vehicles, weapons and equipment operate on a closed network and facilitate data transmission from sensors to remote-control databases. Hackers try to break the security and gain access to networks such as Car Area Network (CAN). Even if a single point of the network gets compromised, the attacker gets complete control over the automotive functions. Such occurrences would lead to the nation’s insecurity and will directly impact human safety.

Through data verification done by the Blockchain technology over any data that goes in the system, such adversities are effectively prevented.

Conclusion

One important point to accept is that cybercrime is ever-evolving and lucrative. Thus, no cyber defense system can be regarded as 100 % secure. A cybersecurity system that is deemed most effective today may not retain its efficacy tomorrow. But at the present moment, when every organization is looking forward to adopting a cybersecurity solution that is Secure, Vigilant and Resilient, then Blockchain has a lot to offer. Blockchain-powered cybersecurity controls and standards can build stronger technical infrastructure to protect organizations from cyber attacks. This may also require combining Blockchain with other deep technologies like AI(artificial intelligence), IoT and ML.

If you want to integrate Blockchain technology to enhance and improve the cybersecurity of your project, contact our Blockchain experts. Schedule a consultation call and discuss your requirements.

Author’s Bio

Akash Takyar
Akash Takyar
CEO LeewayHertz
Akash Takyar is the founder and CEO at LeewayHertz. With the experience of building over 100+ platforms for startups and enterprise allows Akash to rapidly architect and design solutions that are scalable and beautiful.
Akash's ability to build enterprise-grade technology solutions has attracted over 30 Fortune 500 companies, including Siemens, 3M, P&G and Hershey’s. Akash is an early adopter of new technology, a passionate technology enthusiast, and an investor in AI and IoT startups.

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