IoT Security Revolutionized by Blockchain

Image via Ubuntu Insights

Image via Ubuntu Insights

Any doubt that Internet of Things (IoT) devices have the ability to wreak digital havoc was removed during the last quarter of 2016 when IoT-device powered Mirai botnets handily disrupted internet service.

To find out why IoT devices are coming under attack, researchers at the University of Portsmouth analyzed 55 systems for managing the IoT and found a majority had neither support for security or privacy, nor did they implement robust controls. Why is this the case?

It turns out, there aren't really strong incentives for manufacturers to update their systems to keep you safe.

A Workable Solution

Researchers believe blockchain technology can be used to enhance security, privacy, and the manageability of IoT devices.

What is a blockchain?

Computing Power?

A new proposal by researchers uses an existing concept in blockchain technology called an oracle. An oracle is a system that reports on the world to the blockchain in a reliable fashion. For example, a smart contract may require payment when a certain condition is met, and the oracle is used to report to the blockchain when that condition exists.

The researchers want to change how an oracle works. "We propose that the IoT and blockchain industries require the exact opposite—a trusted intermediary that reports on the state of the blockchain on behalf of the IoT device," the three state in their paper. "Such an entity, which we call a Pythia, could interact with the blockchain on behalf of IoT devices and do so in a trusted fashion. Therefore, it would act both as an oracle to the device, as well as an oracle to the blockchain."

"Pythia is named after the priestess at the temple of Apollo in ancient Greece, who acted as a go-between between the gods and humans. With this system in place, IoT developers will be able to trust blockchains more easily, leading to many new approaches for a secure IoT."

The three researchers believe their methodology of using a distributed ledger to provide a shared governance model for IoT devices, networks, and cloud systems is workable, and they are in the process of prototyping the concept.

(Story via Tech Republic)