Blockchain: The cybersecurity revolution with its strengths and weaknesses

Posted by Clément Saad on March 08, 2018

Sometimes it's unfortunate that technical terms, often with technological input, are emptied of meaning by inappropriate marketing uses. It has been some time since I gave up fighting the misuse of the term "innovation" and now deplore the overuse of artificial intelligence.

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While this is undoubtedly a booming computer realm with a direct impact on the population, it is amusing to note that, with marketing in its full swing, even several basic solutions can be considered as artificial intelligence!

I think (and I hope) that the blockchain will avoid this phenomenon. First, I want to state that blockchain is the biggest revolution cybersecurity will face.

  1. Blockchain is based on a fundamental principle of distributed computing, that a transaction or a decision is not taken by a central entity but emerges on a multi-decision base from different entities. The more entities there are, the more reliable the architecture is.
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  3. If the entities are completely autonomous, the blockchain ensures their coordination and each entity records the decision taken after each transaction to distribute the chain of decisions (the chain of blocks) on all the entities.

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How is blockchain an architecture that improves security issues?

  • By not leaving the decision-making to a single central entity: indeed, when a single server decides everything, the alteration or piracy of this server renders the decisions obsolete.

  • By making decisions indisputable and irrevocable: the knowledge of the decisions from the chain by all the entities involved, makes falsifications or denials impossible.

Make no mistake, these are the main vulnerabilities of the current security architectures. It is for these reasons that I think the blockchain will be a real revolution. Here are some examples of uses for companies on which the blockchain will be involved in validation and traceability: identifiers of individuals and their access, contracts, communications (emails, SMS, chat, etc.).

 

Blockchain, fail-proof?

The reliability of the blockchain is not guaranteed. It is based on certain conditions:

  • The number of entities involved in the transactions: if it is too weak, the argument of the distribution of decisions will not be worth. For equivalent reason it is preferable that the entities vary: a dynamic architecture will be more robust than a static one.
  • The geographical distribution of entities: if they're mainly in a country, geopolitical issues may jeopardize the reliability of the system.
  • Lastly, the reliability of the communication protocol and calculation algorithms remains a sine qua non condition for the proper functioning of the system. The exploitation of a bug will remain a usable lever by hackers.

For these reasons, I am not sure that the blockchain that will be used in the field of cybersecurity will be as messy as in its use for bitcoin for example.

 

Blockchain and mobility?

Mobile security will be no exception to the rule because like any security solution, its purpose remains the validation of the security of a terminal: its applications, its network connections, its communications, etc. It is easy to understand that the decision process is completely compatible with a blockchain architecture if it does not impact the speed of decision making, which remains a key point in mobility where waiting has no place. Our research team is working on it with some experiments that are underway.

Here again, the confidence that companies are ready to give to the blockchain, does not depend so much on its principle, but on the reality of the architecture.

It is up to us, security solutions provider, to find the path to lift these fears so that we can benefit from the gigantic potential this architecture offers us.

 


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