The speed, comfort, and thrill that the internet offers come with a downside — exposure to cyberthreats. Yet, a majority of people often neglect these threats as the benefits of the internet dwarf the threats. Thankfully though, things are changing as users are becoming more aware of their privacy on the internet.
The real danger of cybercrime is felt on the enterprise level. For them, it is an ongoing effort to prevent cybercriminals from exploiting private information. There’s no constant in this space. That’s because the more we improve our technology guarding online information, the better the hackers get at bypassing security.
Cybersecurity is a much more expensive affair than many may realize. The worldwide expense on cybersecurity grew from $34 billion in 2017 to almost $43 billion in 2020. Even with such high levels of security investment, there were 2,935 publicly reported data breaches that exposed 38 billion records in the three quarters of 2020. These cybercrimes cost businesses almost $500 billion annually. On top of that, there are other forms of attacks such as DDoS that are increasing rapidly. Estimates suggest that the total number of DDoS attacks will reach 15.9 million by 2023.
These stats point in one direction: the struggle to secure information and the need for better cybersecurity infrastructure. And in a time when blockchain has set new security standards, it’s crucial to discuss how its ability to decentralize and cryptographically secure data can benefit the cybersecurity space.
A majority of the discussion about blockchain technology still revolves around its impact on the financial industry. But blockchain’s actual impact and its use cases stretch far beyond that.
By definition, blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that records and stores data in a cryptographically secure manner. It has the potential to build trust in our existing systems without the need for a central entity. In doing so, it can free these systems of any central point of failure or attack. These inherent characteristics of blockchain can significantly boost the security of our existing systems.
DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service attack is one of the most common ways hackers use to render a platform, IoT devices, or website useless. They flood the server with unprecedented amounts of fake traffic, which utilizes all the available bandwidth and causes the system to crash. A DDoS attack relies on the fact that the server that supports the website or a platform is centralized.
In the case of a blockchain infrastructure, there are no central servers. Instead, there are hundreds or thousands of nodes that support the operations of blockchain-based platforms. Due to this, attackers using DDoS attacks do not have any central servers to flood with fake traffic. Even if they chose to attack individual nodes supporting the blockchain, it may not be feasible to attack hundreds of nodes at once to hinder the blockchain's operation.
The biggest threat to data security is centralization. Despite that, almost all enterprises today rely on centralized clouds and storage platforms for parking their exceedingly critical, private information. This sounds more unwise when you consider the fact that today even wars between governments are fought online. And not guns and tanks, but data is their most powerful weapon.
This leaves no need to explain why hackers may be lured to hack servers and storages to steal critical information from governments and businesses. But once again, blockchain’s ability to store data in a decentralized manner can be the savior.
Blockchain platforms like FileCoin and Storj are some of the most recognized distributed storage systems. In simple terms, these platforms encrypt any uploaded data, break it into multiple shards, and store these small encrypted parts across multiple nodes running the blockchain. The encrypted and sharded data can only be decrypted, put together, and accessed using the key shared with the owner by the platform. No node or third-party can access the data as it is encrypted and broken into smaller parts that are distributed across the network.
This ability of blockchain can largely reduce the number of successful data breaches that today cost businesses and individuals billions of dollars.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal was an eye-opener for hundreds of millions of internet users. It exposed how social media and tech giants exploit their users' data to fuel their business. From our favorite eCommerce stores to social media platforms, every place we visit in this vast virtual world has trackers to track and record our activity. Users' exposure to these facts about their privacy violations on the internet has made internet privacy a hot topic for discussion.
As people become more aware, there’s a significant spike in the use of Virtual Private Networks, or VPN. These applications enable users to go undetected on the internet and prevent online platforms or hackers from tracking their activity or devices. However, VPNs have the same problem as most platforms, centralization.
The solution to this is blockchain-based decentralized private networks (DPNs) or dVPNs. For example, Deeper Network’s DPN works like VPNs but using a decentralized server. The DPN routes a user’s traffic through an encrypted tunnel hosted over a blockchain-based decentralized network. By encrypting user's traffic data over a decentralized network before sending it to the original destination, DPNs ensure that no one can track the origin of a user’s traffic or exploit their system to steal data.
In addition, Deeper Network also has a hardware device called Deeper Connect that allows users to be the client as well as their own servers. This, as you may guess, will prevent anything from leaking out of the user’s device.
The decentralization of VPN, as done by Deeper Network, is a classic example of securing the security provider. And this means blockchain-based DPNs are more resilient to failures, downtimes, and attacks compared to VPNs.
What we discussed here is only a small portion of the vast impact blockchain can have on cybersecurity. It can lay the foundation for truly secure private messaging platforms, create a safer and more decentralized domain name system (DNS), secure financial transactions, and so on. And it can do it all because it replaces centralization — the weakest link of internet security — with decentralization.