By Emily Newton
People often discuss the blockchain in cryptocurrency conversations and, increasingly, when bringing up ways to secure the supply chain and achieve better transparency for all involved parties.
However, it offers broader applications, too. Could the blockchain improve security in the online realm? Many people believe so. Here are some of the ways it might enhance cybersecurity soon and is currently making an impact.
Reducing Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware attacks can cripple ill-prepared businesses. It prevents people from accessing files unless they pay the amount that hackers demand. Even then, providing the funds doesn’t necessarily result in restored access.
A company called HeraSoft recently completed a $5 million Series A funding round. It offers blockchain solutions, including those built to safeguard against ransomware. More specifically, the company made a public protocol index layer on a platform tied to Bitcoin. It helps stop ransomware and other cybersecurity attacks.
During an interview, the CEO, Anthem Blanchard, explained more about HeraSoft’s approach and why it’s necessary:
“[We] confront the growing cybersecurity challenges facing businesses and government organizations. This problem was worsened by the coronavirus, which sparked a mass migration of data and systems online. The immediacy of this shift meant many companies did not (and still do not) have adequate security measures and protections in place, making them vulnerable to hacks and ransomware.”
He continued, “We are using distributed technology to eliminate single points of failure in enterprise cloud systems and guard against damaging cyberattacks.”
Company decision-makers are not always quick to adopt new technologies. Thus, it could be a while before this option or one like it becomes mainstream. Even so, this company offers a thought-provoking concept.
Minimizing Password Usage
People use passwords to access workplace interfaces, carry out personal banking, shop for necessities at e-commerce sites, and more. However, some cybersecurity experts argue that blockchain security offers a better way.
Even if you know all modern password best practices, there have probably been instances where you didn’t follow them for convenience’s sake. With many people accessing dozens of sites that need passwords, some use the same login details at multiple places or choose information that’s easy to guess.
One way to let blockchain improve security is to combine its distributed ledger technology with digital identity verification. The idea is that companies issue digital wallets to their customers. Those apps store personal information, and outside parties can only access it after the wallet holder grants permission.
A real-life example concerned a credit union service organization. Interested customers contacted customer service representatives and received codes that let them download digital wallet apps to their smartphones or tablets.
The app facilitated instances where customers provided credentials for banking activities, or employees requested them. Users saw prompts on their phones that required them to confirm credit union membership. Doing that created a two-way secure communication channel.
When talking about how this solution helped, credit union representatives said traditional customer authentication methods could take as long as 90 seconds. This blockchain-based option gets the job done in less than 5. Call center workers can boost their productivity, and customers stay satisfied because the overall experience of getting help is more efficient and straightforward.
Facilitating Safer Collaborations Between Parties
Research shows that data breaches affected more than 155 million individuals in 2020 and that the year had 1,001 such reported incidents. A different 2020 study revealed manufacturing as one of the at-risk industries for data breaches associated with financial gain.
More specifically, 29% of breaches in that sector involved people using malware to steal data. A motivated and malicious person could use data to learn trade secrets, lure customers away to competing manufacturers, and damage a company’s reputation.
Manufacturing companies commonly use the blockchain to accelerate shipment tracking. One company decreased its tracking time to 2.2 seconds from the initial week-long timeframe. That’s an understandable use case, but manufacturers should also think about using the blockchain to safeguard the data exchanges that happen when people collaborate.
Xage Security is a company that aims to help with its blockchain-based, tamper-proof data-sharing solution. Its CEO, Duncan Greatwood, pointed out that the Internet of Things (IoT) presents opportunities to automate data exchanges.
However, he clarified, “Manufacturers need granular control down to the level of individual machines and individual data streams so that sharing, multi-location, and real-time multi-party cooperation can be fully and safely enabled.”
His company’s offering verifies the source of data, then ensures no one changed it before the recipient reads it. Additionally, this blockchain security option only allows authorized parties to view the content. Each data sharer can set individual access policies. Plus, the blockchain’s distributed nature means that no single point of failure would allow a hack.
Protecting Health Records
As the COVID-19 pandemic worsened, many people realized that personal health data sharing strategies might be the key to controlling the virus and avoiding outbreaks.
For example, many government leaders around the world require people to show negative COVID-19 tests before arriving in a country. Ticketmaster also announced it might make showing a negative test result or proof of vaccination a requirement for entering an event.
Using a blockchain security method to keep health data safe may prove instrumental in helping more people enjoy fewer restrictions, even as the virus remains problematic. A hospital in Cyprus utilized a blockchain-based app that shows a person’s results for real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) or rapid antibody tests on a smartphone.
The individual with the test data can grant permission for other parties to see the data as required. Then, if a workplace or other entity needs proof that the person does not have the virus, providing it is straightforward.
Once the hospital uploads the data to the blockchain, it’s in an immutable state. Nobody accessing the information needs to worry about someone tampering with their results before seeing them.
How Soon Will Blockchain Improve Security?
After reading about these examples, you may wonder how soon it’ll be before blockchain security makes a major impact on protecting content in the digital realm and safeguarding against hacks or other attacks. That’s anyone’s guess, because the biggest differences will likely come from widespread usage. However, the diversity of the use cases discussed here and elsewhere gives hope for the future.
As more companies and parties start implementing blockchain for improved cybersecurity, the entities that wait to adopt it should feel more confident if the early adopters have positive outcomes. It’s already evident in these relatively early stages that blockchain security is worth exploring, especially as cyberattacks become more severe and extensive.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine. She has over three years of experience writing articles in the industrial sector.