Can Blockchain Save The Internet of Things?

The Chain of Things is a consortium that is investigating applications of Block Chain technology in securing the IoT.
The Chain of Things is a consortium that is investigating applications of Block Chain technology in securing the IoT. (Image courtesy of Chain of Things.)

In-brief: In this Security Ledger podcast, we speak with the guys from Chain of Things, a new consortium that is investigating applications of Block Chain and related technologies to solving identity and security problems for IoT deployments. 

One of the biggest challenges if we want to secure the Internet of Things centers on identity. Specifically: how will we go about getting billions or hundreds of billions of intelligent devices to connect and communicate with each other securely? It’s not just about Tesla knowing that the device on the other end of a firmware update is a Model S versus a Model X. It’s about the thousands of sensors within that Tesla communicating with the road and other infrastructure, or knowing that a command to brake or swerve is a legitimate command that comes from the driver or another trusted subsystem.

[Read other Security Ledger coverage of IoT and identity.]

Right now, public key infrastructure (PKI) is the preferred method for securely identifying digital assets, but recent incidents have shown that PKI and especially its reliance on various private and public certificate authorities is vulnerable to manipulation and tampering. One promising alternative is the technology known as Block Chain. It’s best known as the secure transaction system that undergirds the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, but Block Chain has applications far beyond digital cash.

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So can Block Chain and related technologies like Tangle “ save” the Internet of Things? To help us answer that, we’re talking to three people who are trying to answer that very question. Adam Vaziri, Conor Colwell & Doug Irwin are three of the founding members of Chain of Things, an open research consortium that is working on applications of Block Chain to address security issues that affect the Internet of Things and make IoT deployments more robust.

The group just released a case study of using Block Chain to secure a system for transferring solar energy credits from distributed data loggers connected to solar panel to a node and distributed ledger which is synced across a broader global network of nodes. You can find that case study on the group’s web site.

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If you like the music we use to start our podcast, you can purchase the song, “Baxton” by the group JoeLess Shoe on Amazon.com. 

5 Comments

  1. Which kind of blockchain are we talking about? Bitcoin blockchain? Or blockhain in general?

    • Hey Jack – we’re referring to block chain technology generically. Bitcoin is one application of block chain, but its applications aren’t limited to Bitcoin/digital currencies. There are also block chain variants like Tangle that have more direct applications for IoT.

    • Hi Jack, Conor here from Chain of Things – Going off of Paul’s comment, the general decentralized ledger concept stands, but traditional Bitcoin blockchain tech is not ideal for the data heavy loads that will be normal for IoT. So working with partners like IOTA, we are exploring other ‘blockless’ or tangle based solutions that are designed to be specifically light weight for IoT applications. All a work in progress so stay tuned and we’ll see how it goes!

  2. Pingback: IoT and blockchain: a match made in heaven? | BaniDigitali.ro