Disclaimer: This blog post will not go in-depth into the actual technology and math behind Blockchain.
Instead, we’re going to explain how it works in basic terms.
Then we’ll take a look at how Blockchain aims to change the way we store information and the impact it’s having on cybersecurity.
Think of this quick read as Blockchain 101.
What Exactly Is Blockchain Technology?
Blockchain rose to prominence as the backbone from which the cryptocurrency BitCoin was developed.
If we look at how it works, the term “Blockchain” becomes self-explanatory:
The technology stores data written on it in collective batches, commonly called “blocks”.
These blocks are arranged chronologically and linked together, thus forming a string of information or a “chain”.
Each time a new block of data is formed, it can only be added to the end of the existing chain.
Once a block is recorded on the chain, it cannot be backtracked or edited.
Instead, any change to the information on previous blocks is recorded on a new block and timestamped, then broadcast to the entire network.
These simple processes guarantee all users the transparency and validity of information stored in a Blockchain.
Currently, there are three types of Blockchain:
On public Blockchains, every user can join and see the blocks and participate in building processes.
A private Blockchain is a closed network with access only to designated users. For example, a company network.
A combination of Public and Private protocols, depending on network needs. For example, on a hospital network, a doctor might have access to all medical records, while patients are only allowed to see their personal information.
The Use of Blockchain In Cybersecurity
At its core, Blockchain is just another method of data storage.
However, it promises to make hosting and exchanging information easier, cheaper, but most importantly safer than any other method.
So, what makes it so popular that it’s become a multi-billion-dollar industry in just a few years?
On the surface level, the security measures of Blockchain are so simple, they might even look like liabilities at first glance.
But it’s the way they work together that makes Blockchain so safe.
Using Distributive Ledger Technology
A Blockchain stores information using Distributive Ledger Technology – DLT for short.
The word “ledger” refers to actual paper ledgers used in the past by financial institutions for record-keeping.
DLT is a form of decentralized database managed by multiple devices.
Every device – computer, laptop, server – with access to the database (chain) is called a “Node”.
Each Node has a set of encrypted keys – one public and one private – by which it is recognized by the network.
All Nodes keep a copy of the data chain in their “ledger” and are constantly “broadcasting” it to the other devices.
If anyone attempts to change information stored within a confirmed block, the rest of the network will detect it and reject the change.
This democratic-like process is called a Network Consensus.
Because the database of Blockchain is decentralized, there are no authoritative devices that can overrule the Network Consensus.
Without a central authority, there isn’t a single best point of attack to the network.
In cybersecurity terms, this means there isn’t that one device that, if breached, could compromise the entire database.
There are no servers that can be shut down (even physically) and removing a device won’t break the network or take down any information.
So, if hacking a Node to access or edit existing data is next to impossible, what about feeding the network false information?
Proof of Work
Whenever a new block is created, Nodes will compete with each other on who gets to add it to the chain.
They do this by having to solve a mathematical problem which requires effort in the form of computing power and time spent.
Once a Node finds a solution, it broadcasts it to the rest of the network.
Each Node then tries the solution for itself to confirm its validity.
If/once the majority of the network (say 51%) confirms the solution, the Node that found the solution receives a “Proof of Work”
A Proof of Work or POW is a confirmation that a Node has invested the time and power to complete the math problem – thus done the “work”.
The more Proof of Work a Node acquires, the more trusted it becomes on the network.
Even though it’s technically possible for malicious or compromised Nodes to tamper with or add false information to the Blockchain, the computing power and time required to do so make it very cost-ineffective.
For someone to add and maintain even a single malicious block of data, they would have to solve the mathematical problem first every single time, forever.
Even if someone had the computing means to do so, then they still need to compromise over half the network to keep confirming the invalid solution.
In conclusion, the biggest security feature of Blockchain isn’t some impenetrable wall, but rather a set of simple rules which make it unreasonably hard to mess with the network.
The Importance of Cybersecurity Going Forward
According to a report by Cybersecurity Magazine, the global spending on cybersecurity from 2017-2021 is estimated at over one trillion dollars.
The world is becoming increasingly connected and, whether we like it or not, much of our information is circulated on the world wide web.
Blockchain is growing at an increasing rate and is forecast by tech experts as the successor to information storage and security.
So far, the technology is too young and underdeveloped to store large amounts of data, such as those of multinational businesses or major governments.
However, it can be ideal for smaller businesses or individual network branches within an enterprise.
The financial sector is arguably the biggest driving force behind the development of Blockchain, as the benefits it provides will make operations cheaper, faster, and safer globally.
AppsCo One Is Your Partner In Cybersecurity
At AppsCo, we’re passionate about tech solutions and cybersecurity is one of our specialties.
We talk about it and related topics extensively on our blog.
We believe Blockchain will play a major role in the future of our business, too.
If you have a private network (or Blockchain) that needs protection, such as the one in your company, here’s what AppsCo can do for you:
- Group users on a single platform for easy overview
- Grant or revoke user access to network resources in a few clicks
- Enforce multi-factor authentication
- Quickly identify and reject unrecognized login attempts
- Safely share resources with employees or customers
- Remove the risk of credential theft with Single Sign-On (SSO)
- Easily assign new or delete old user accounts from the network
- Incorporate company policy into the apps protocols
- Do all of the above and more through ONE app
AppsCo One is a Cloud-based solution, you can use it across a variety of devices – phones, tablets, computers.
This means you can take it with you wherever you go and you’ll always have access to your network.