Blockchain Technology: Can It Rise to the Cybersecurity Challenge?

Old-school cybersecurity approaches are having a hard time keeping up with the complexity and reach of the vast networks of interconnected machines that make up our reality. As the line blurs between the physical and digital worlds, companies large and small are struggling to keep data secure and private. But all hope is not lost. Security professionals are looking to blockchain technology as a way to meet cybersecurity challenges.

Wait, Are We Talking About Cryptocurrency?

Although the term blockchain gained fame through its use in cryptocurrency markets, such as Bitcoin, the technology is suited for cybersecurity in a wide range of applications. In response to growing interest in blockchain as a security measure, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published the Blockchain Technology Overview near the end of 2018. The paper covers the technology and how it can be applied to secure networks and communications, defining blockchains “as tamper evident and tamper resistant digital ledgers implemented in a distributed fashion (i.e., without a central repository) and usually without a central authority (i.e., a bank, company, or government).”

Blockchain Benefits

In other words, blockchains securely record transactions in a shared ledger so that the data cannot be altered after it has been added to the ledger, ensuring security and authenticity. The nodes of a blockchain communicate to reach consensus, so even if an attacker attempts a break-in, the nodes will recognize and communicate the unusual activity, locking out nodes that have been compromised. Security professionals can centrally define policies that are then replicated in a tamperproof and enforceable network.

Watch That Learning Curve

Although the promise of blockchain is enough to excite even cynical cybersecurity veterans, as with any new technology, or new application of an existing technology, blockchain as a data security solution requires forethought, planning, and experience. Implemented without direction, blockchain technology is just money spent on buzz. Organizations interested in adopting blockchain as part of their security strategy will benefit from first understanding how it will benefit your business, then developing a clear implementation plan.