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A Secure Model of IoT with Blockchain

The Internet of Things (#IoT) is an ecosystem of ever-increasing complexity; it’s the next wave of innovation that will humanize every object in our life, and it is the next level of automation for every object we use.

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IoT is bringing more and more things into the digital fold every day, which will likely make IoT a multi-trillion dollar industry in the near future. To understand the scale of interest in the internet of things (IoT) just check how many conferences, articles, and studies conducted about IoT recently, this interest has hit fever pitch point in 2016 as many companies see big opportunity and believe that IoT holds the promise to expand and improve businesses processes and accelerate growth. However, the rapid evolution of the IoT market has caused an explosion in the number and variety of IoT solutions, which created real challenges as the industry evolves, mainly, the urgent need for a secure IoT model to perform common tasks such as sensing, processing, storage, and communicating. Developing that model will never be an easy task by any stretch of the imagination, there are many hurdles and challenges facing a real secure IoT model.

There are many views of IoT, from “system view” which divided IoT into blocks namely; Things, Gateways, Network Services, and Cloud Services, to “business view” of IoT consists of; Platform, Connectivity, Business Model and Applications. Regardless of the how we describe IoT, there is one common thread among all views which is “security is paramount”.

Prime example of how urgent is the need for security is the massive distributed denial of service attack (#DDoS) that crippled the servers of popular services like Twitter, Netflix, and PayPal across the U.S. on October 21st, 2016. It’s the result of a massive assault that involved millions of internet addresses and malicious software. One source of the traffic for the attacks was IoT devices infected by the Mirai malware which is a simple program available online. The attack comes amid heightened cybersecurity fears and a rising number of internet security breaches. In this attack, countless Internet of Things (IoT) devices that power everyday technology like closed-circuit cameras and smart-home devices were hijacked by the malware and used against the servers.

Challenges of a Secured IoT Model

The biggest challenge facing IoT security is coming from the very architecture of the current IoT ecosystem; it’s all based on a centralized model known as the server/client model. All devices are identified, authenticated and connected through cloud servers that support huge processing and storage capacities. The connection between devices will have to go through the cloud, even if they happen to be a few feet apart. While this model has connected computing devices for decades and will continue to support today IoT networks, it will not be able to respond to the growing needs of the huge IoT ecosystems of tomorrow.

Cost is another big barrier, especially for the use of such centralized model in scaling up existing IoT solutions. There is a high infrastructure and maintenance cost associated with centralized clouds, large server farms, and networking equipment. The sheer amount of communications that will have to be handled when IoT devices grow to the tens of billions will increase those costs substantially. Even if the extraordinary economic and manufacturing challenges are overcome, each block of the IoT architecture will remain as a bottleneck and point of failure that can disrupt the entire network.

Other issues with the current centralized IoT model are; limited guidance for life cycle maintenance and management of IoT devices, moreover, IoT privacy concerns are complex and not always readily evident. Also, the uses of Internet of Things technology are expanding and changing—often in uncharted waters. In addition to the above list, new security technologies will be required to protect IoT devices and platforms from physical tampering as well, and to address new challenges such as impersonating “things” or denial-of-sleep attacks that drain batteries for example. Another challenging issue facing the development of IoT new security technologies is the fact that many “things” use simple processors and operating systems that may not support sophisticated security approaches.

The Blockchain Model

#Blockchain is a database that maintains a continuously growing set of data records. It is distributed in nature, meaning that there is no master computer holding the entire chain. Rather, the participating nodes have a copy of the chain. It’s also ever-growing — data records are only added to the chain.

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