In simple words, blockchain is defined as a shared and immutable ledger that allows users to record transactions and track assets.
It's widely regarded as a disruptive technology that revolutionized the financial industry due to its use for creation of cryptocurrencies (e.g., Bitcoin and Ether) and launching initial coin offerings (ICOs).
The application of blockchain technologies in the field of cybersecurity is generally less known, but not less promising, either.
A Summary of 5 Cybersecurity Benefits of Blockchain
Decentralized data storage.
Providing protection against DDoS attacks.
Enhancing the security of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.
Enabling the use of digital identities.
Securing private messaging applications.
Decentralized Data Storage
Blockchain technologies can be used for the creation of applications allowing their users to store data in a decentralized manner. More specifically, the data to be stored is broken apart and stored in a large number of nodes.
The process of dividing the data in such a way is also known as sharding.
Thus, if one of the data blocks is compromised, the other blocks will remain secure and protected. If each piece of data is copied on several data blocks, no data will be permanently lost even if a given data block is compromised.
Sia is an example of an application for decentralized data storage. It divides files into 30 segments before uploading each of them to hosts located all over the world.
Sia uses the technology Reed-Solomon erasure coding to divide the files in such a manner that any 10 of 30 segments are able to fully recover the stored content. As a result, if 20 out of 30 segments are lost, the stored data will still be retrieved in its entirety.
Blockchain Provides Protection Against DDoS Attacks
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are attacks aiming to disrupt normal traffic of a network, service, or a server by overwhelming the target with Internet traffic.
DDoS attacks rely on the fact that the target constitutes a single point of receiving information that can be easily overburdened if flooded by a large number of points sending information. Blockchain technologies can eliminate the need for a centralized server.
Hackers willing to use DDoS attacks against a decentralized network need to disperse the attack traffic. This, in turn, will significantly decrease the success rate of their DDoS attacks.
Enhancing the Security of Internet of Things (IoT) Technologies
Marketing research indicates that the number of IoT connected devices will grow from 27 billion in 2017 to 125 billion in 2030.
This means that hackers will have more opportunities to conduct attacks on IoT technologies. Such attacks can be particularly harmful as the attack on one IoT device may allow hackers to control an entire set of interconnected IoT devices.
For example, if a hacker gains control over the entire IoT network of a household, they may be able to remotely stop the refrigerator of the family, unlock the door, and turn on the heater.
Blockchain technologies can be used to decentralize the control over a network of IoT devices. This in turn will prevent hackers from taking over the entire network through an attack on its controlling authority.
Enabling the Use of Digital Identities
The use of passwords is commonly used method for confirming identity of users. One of the main drawbacks of passwords is that they are stored on a centralized system.
Thus, even very strong passwords may become ineffective if the system on which they are stored is compromised. Blockchain technologies enable the creation of decentralized digital identities which are not dependent on a single third party.
For example, LegallyChained.com allows its users to create a blockchain-based private identity while at the same time securing their privacy.
Securing Private Messaging Applications
Private messaging applications are used every day by millions of users. Skype alone has 300 million monthly users.
WhatsApp has more than 1.5 billion active users.
Although many users believe that most of the current private messaging applications are sufficiently secure, this is far from true.
For example, numerous online sources announced that human contractors review audio recordings of Skype conversations without obtaining the permission of the participants in the conversations.
Decentralized blockchain private messaging applications allow their users not only to encrypt their messages, but also to divide each of their messages in small pieces of data and store those pieces of data in different locations.
This means that no third party will have access to the messages. If a third party wants to have such access, it needs to overcome serious obstacles, namely, the collection of the fragmented and encrypted data from the blockchain nodes and finding the private key required for its decryption.
Blockchain technologies enable the insertion of innovative functionalities to private messaging applications. For instance, the application Baemail can be used to assign value to each message exchanged through the application and categorizing the received messages on the basis of the assigned value.
This allows the users of the application to focus only on important messages and disregard low-value messages which will likely be spam messages.
Blockchain technologies promise to be an important tool in the arsenal of cybersecurity specialists. One of the main advantages of those technologies is their ability to transform centralized networks in decentralized networks.
Centralized networks can be compared to a spider whose body is fully controlled by a small brain in its head. If the brain is affected, the entire body stops operating.
Decentralized networks can be compared to a starfish (also known as a sea star). It is an organism that lacks a centralized brain and is able to regenerate its entire body from a single arm.
Decentralized networks, similarly to starfishes, are able to resist highly-focused attacks and can recover even if they are partly damaged.
Centralized networks, similarly to spiders, can completely collapse in case of successful direct attacks on their main servers.