IoT Devices and the Blockchain

POSTED BY   james
December 14, 2016

Emerging Blockchain expert, Simon Tucker, explores data, IoT devices, and how the Blockchain will help.


IoT Devices and the Blockchain

The amount of data the IoT explosion is about to create will have a profound effect on our ability to collect, analyse and predict our lives. 

But how?

IoT devices have two fundamental questions that should be addressed. Firstly, are IoT devices secure from malicious hackers (the answer has already been proven to be no), and, what will be done with this data?

JLL is keen to start chucking these devices into every window, seat, desk, and cup, so we can tell when conference room C would be 8.3% more efficient than your current location. But these questions haven’t really been answered to a satisfactory level – and if the real estate industry is going to adopt such technologies – then let’s get debating.

First up: Blockchain can help secure databases of information in IoT devices

IoT devices need to be secure from all invasive or unwanted readers of data. So far, it’s been hacked, it’s being hacked, and it will continue to be hacked. Vulnerabilities lie in the points of failure that exist due to the devices being linked across multiple connections from home broadband hubs to DNS servers that host large portions of the internet.

The DDoS attack in October showed the ability for these devices to be overtaken and controlled by a malicious program that turned TVs, cameras, thermostats and coffee-makers into millions of ‘zombie’ devices and direct their data to these large servers – causing it to overload and crash a third of the internet. Similar to trying to get on the District line on a day Chelsea are playing at home, ‘zombies’ crowding any way to get on the train, bottlenecking and eventually forcing the station to be closed.

Moreover, there are constant new releases of IoT devices. So, while there may be security in place for the latest generation, there are 1st, 2nd, 3rd (so on) generation devices that don’t have a universal security protocol.

To stop hackers gaining access to IoT devices and being able to dictate the flow of information, a blockchain system that encrypts outgoing data would make hacking any IoT device impossible. The encryption of the system, hiding the data behind massive amounts of complicated maths, would allow for devices that are authorised to communicate between one another without the interference of an outside attack – since they already have the answer to the complex mathsy bit. All devices would be in constant synchronisation and communication – in the same way all nodes on a blockchain must be aligned – any attempt to interfere would not go unnoticed.

The encryption of the system, hiding the data behind massive amounts of complicated maths, would allow for devices that are authorised to communicate between one another without the interference of an outside attack – since they already have the answer to the complex mathsy bit.

But which blockchain do we use? The green one? The one with bells?

Nah, it’s simple. Completely unnoticed by any of us. We all create a micro-blockchain system across all devices in a smart building/home, protecting them from outside interference. Furthermore, this micro-blockchain collects and stores data from all these devices that can then be uploaded to a much wider blockchain that would collect all the data from all smart buildings and devices. Creating a daisy chain of interconnected blockchain systems that are able to communicate with one another. See, simple right?

Think of it like a tree, we have a tree trunk that is the main big blockchain from which we run all of humanity, acting as the trunk, branches of different blockchains are linked to the trunk, but acting as if they are a separate entity. So a single building may have its own private chain, which then links to the entire road’s chain, which then links to the borough’s chain, which then…. (see where I’m going with this?)

The benefit of the blockchain is through the encryption of the data collected being maintained privately, yet shared across many parties. Similar to the bitcoin network in which everyone can see all transactions, but the identity of each user is hidden behind the cryptography. Any information you provide becomes anonymised data as it is transferred to a larger blockchain, which can be used to to improve efficiency across a smart building, and smart building networks. All the individual data is hidden, but the entire impact of the data is understood.


 

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