Consensus 2019: Growing Number of People Now Own Bitcoin
“2% of the world’s population owns a bitcoin address,” said Alex Gordon-Brander, the CEO of OmegaOne during a panel discussion at Consensus 2019. With a growing number of people owning Bitcoin, the future is bright for cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.
At Consensus 2019, we had more influencers this year talking about integrating blockchain with finance, healthcare, national security, and economics.
Cybersecurity, however, is still a major hurdle that we must overcome before we can scale blockchain technology.
First, how do you know whether your favorite cryptocurrency exchange is secure? Harpal Sandhu, CEO of Mint Exchange, added to the aforementioned panel discussion: “to secure our digital assets, stability and reliability are key.”
Increasing Reliability and Security Using Blockchain Technology
As we have seen with cryptocurrency exchanges such as the most recent hack on Binance, applications that run on blockchain technology are not necessarily secure.
Banks are understandably hesitant to move to blockchain due to these vulnerabilities. However, blockchain technology itself is highly secure. The problem is we cannot apply and scale blockchain using traditional security practices such as firewalls and VPNs.
We should demand better security practices from crypto exchanges. The future is bright for blockchain, but hacks continue to stain the reputation of cryptos. Whether you are a trader, or investor, it is up to you to challenge these exchanges to shore themselves up with a crypto security suite that reliably protects your digital assets.
The good news is there’s a cybersecurity solution for blockchain-based applications. Sentinel Protocol created a Threat Reputation Database (TRDB) containing whitelists and blacklists of crowdsourced threat intelligence. Organizations can use the TRDB to plug security vulnerabilities in their applications. Individuals can access the TRDB through an UPPward browser extension to protect their digital assets.
UPPward extension also offers the Crypto Address Highlight Feature, which highlights blacklisted crypto addresses in red.
There is No Security in Obscurity
Many companies assume that their networks would be secure if their vulnerabilities were kept a secret from the outside world. This security through obscurity.
It may have worked for a little while, but not today. Hackers are more sophisticated and always ahead of the game. It’s not enough to hide vulnerabilities because they can brute force their way in or deduce certain vulnerabilities based on how systems are commonly structured.
A better tactic would be to go on the offensive by collecting information about new attack vectors hackers use. With a go-to source of threat intel, anyone could stay ahead of cyber attacks by isolating their vulnerabilities and protect themselves from new threats.
We can also standardize the global exchange of threat intelligence with cybersecurity companies, governments, and other businesses. The snowball effect of seamless threat information exchange can stop most threats in their tracks before they do any damage.
According to a recent press release, that is the objective of the Interactive Cooperation Framework (ICF). The second version of the ICF API uses STIX, an internationally-recognized cybersecurity language and serialization format, which eliminates the need to check security regulations before acting on new threat intelligence.
Security is Not Static
Email phishing and links to malware is quite common and increasingly targeted towards company executives. If someone is not careful, they could allow a major hack to happen within their organization.
According to a Business Times article, a study conducted by PwC showed that 42 percent of businesses surveyed were compromised by phishing attacks in 2017.
With the advent of Industry 4.0 revolution, IoT makes security even more complex and consequently, more vulnerable. There are needs to be new technologies that create resilient security based on trust — and this is where the decentralization of blockchain comes in.
Using a decentralized database containing the latest security threats, we can finally stay ahead of hackers. A new product, the Crypto Analysis Transaction Visualisation (CATV) tool, would be useful for companies transacting using blockchain. The CATV, which acts as a forensic tool, helps anyone “follow the money” to see where cryptocurrency transactions come from and are sent to, making it difficult for hackers to cover their tracks. This tool allows financial organizations, government bodies investigate security breaches, money laundering, and movements of stolen digital assets.
The Way Forward: New Synergy Between Blockchain and Cybersecurity
Blockchain could potentially improve cybersecurity not only due to decentralization, but also its consensus mechanisms, prevention of data tampering, auditability, encryption, and elimination of single points of failure.
This results in a synergistic effect where immutability provides assurance of data integrity, traceability (with the CATV tool), and operational resilience with no single points of failure.
As per Deloitte’s Blockchain & Cyber Security report, “If an attacker is able to gain access to the blockchain network, they are more likely to gain access to the data, hence authentication and authorization controls need to be implemented, as is the case with other technologies.”
Integrating cybersecurity with blockchain can and likely will result in stronger protection of intellectual property, personal information, health records, financial data, and digital assets.