Advisory Note

The Disruptive Potential of Blockchains in IoT Security

Blockchains have the ability offer many solutions regarding the security concerns currently limiting the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT). Blockchains, combined with other decentralised, peer-to-peer technologies can improve IoT security by enabling authenticity and integrity assurance of connected things, scalable management of connected devices, and secure information transmission.

Ivan Niccolai

1 Management Summary

The core IoT security challenges today are largely due to the complexities of managing and securing potentially billions of devices while ensuring the Authenticity, integrity and identification of devices with computational and cost constraints and secure data transmission across networks in remote areas or extreme environments with intermittent or no internet access.

Blockchains offer a unique value potential for dealing with IoT security challenges, primarily due to their decentralised, peer-to-peer architecture and “trustless” algorithmic consensus model of security by transparency rather than obscurity and secrecy.

Blockchain-based solutions can provide scalable security benefits to many areas in the lifecycle of a connected sensor or device. From ensuring the provenance of a newly-manufactures device, as well as providing traceability of the entire service history of a deployed device, to decentralised mechanisms for deploying authorised firmware or configuration updates, mechanisms for enabling secure data storage and communication, as well as permitting independent verification of the integrity and ownership of a device, blockchain technology is seems almost a natural fit with IoT.

In the near future, blockchain-powered device identity and configuration management can help ensure sufficient IoT security to enable the automation benefits promised by the IoT revolution. The value of blockchains will not be limited to provenance and integrity assurance, as this technology offers key benefits in automation too.

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