One of the hottest topics in cybersecurity circles is the enterprise blockchain. This is the same technology that underpins cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Simply defined, blockchain is a list of transactions or contracts shared with peers and locked down by some clever cryptography. Beyond Bitcoin, it can ensure the integrity of supply chains, manage contracts, or even as serve as a platform for financial transactions.
Its popularity in the cryptocurrency space, use of cryptography, and distributed nature prove to supporters that the blockchain is the solution to many of our current cybersecurity problems. Akamai Technologies, for example, is currently building a blockchain-powered network for online payments. “Blockchain in and of itself is a security technology,” says Andy Champagne, VP and CTO of Akamai Labs. “It is really grounded in security principles.”
News about hacks of Bitcoin exchanges from Bitcoin to Paypal is relevant for open, public networks where anyone can set up a node, but enterprise blockchain projects are different from public networks, Champagne says. “Enterprise blockchain is usually permissioned blockchain,” he says. “There’s a set of nodes, but the nodes are private, and access to the nodes is limited through a set of security perimeters to folks who are part of the institution.”
It’s not just hype, confirmed Andrew Howard, CTO at Kudelski Security. Even if it’s not a panacea, the benefits of blockchain are real, and the technology is here to stay. “The basic concept, hypothetically, is very resistant to attacks,” he says. “In an academic point of view, blockchain makes a lot of sense. They are very difficult to attack if properly implemented.”
While blockchain might be a difficult target for hackers, it’s not invulnerable. Many security experts warn that blockchain implementations bring with them a wide range of dangers that companies need to be aware of.