Why Cybersecurity Professionals Should Learn about Blockchain Technologies
Written by Marla Ovenden-Cooper
Understanding blockchain, what it is and how it is used is becoming crucial for cybersecurity professionals. Blockchain has been around for over 30 years. Widespread adoption is still on the horizon, but it appears safe to say that blockchain is not going away anytime soon. Visa, Walmart, and the FDA have all begun implementing blockchain into their operations. Even governments are taking notice and have started funding research projects such as Canada’s Project Jasper. A project which evaluated the implementation of blockchain distributed ledger technologies. Scott Hendry, Bank of Canada Senior Special Director, Financial Technology, said, “DLT is a promising technology that has the potential to reduce costs for participants and open new opportunities.”
The most common use of blockchain is completing financial transactions, but organizations are being drawn to blockchain for a multitude of reasons. For example, supply chain management in the food industry to monitor contaminated food and tracking medications in the health industry. This means that even if a company is not prepared to use cryptocurrency for transactions, they may still use or consider using blockchain technologies for other aspects of their organization in the near future. As a result, cybersecurity professionals will need to understand blockchain to provide valuable insight in the decision making process and when dealing with risk and the best way to learn about it is through online IT courses.
What are some of the benefits of using blockchain in cybersecurity?
Blockchain maintains the integrity of the data because it uses ledgers and blocks which are linked using cryptographic hash functions. As a result, when a transaction is recorded on the blockchain it is very difficult to alter or delete.
Blockchain data is not stored on a centralized server, rather it is stored across a network of computers, making it very challenging to hack. Rather than hacking a server, a bad actor would have to hack the blockchain at multiple points, requiring much more resources to be successful.
If data on the blockchain is altered by a bad actor, changed data will be detected quickly because each time that data is altered, the rest of the chain has to verify the changes.
What are some of the cons to using blockchain in cybersecurity?
Smaller scale blockchains can be more susceptible to attack. If a hacker can get access to over 51% of the mining process, they are able to create a separate version of the chain and designate it as the true version. This is more challenging for mid to large scale blockchains, as it is very unlikely that a hacker would gain access to over 51% of the mining.
In the public blockchain, anyone can see and retrieve data in transactions. However, not all companies want this information to be publicly available. This can be addressed by having a private or permissioned blockchain so that the shared ledger has some permission controls.
Phishing attacks, yes they can happen for blockchain too! Scams to gain the credentials, in this case the private key, of a user within the blockchain can put the entire blockchain at risk. Cybercriminals are creating mirror sites, which capture login details and then request further personal details to allow the user to gain access, this information is then used by the bad actor to gain access to funds or data. Become part of the solution to help mitigate digital scams and cyber-attacks.
No one specific cybersecurity solution is impenetrable and since blockchain is becoming recognized as a cyber solution, cybersecurity professionals will need to learn how to assess the risks associated with the use of blockchain. They need to have enough knowledge to make decisions about how using or not using these solutions will affect their business. For this reason, it is key that cybersecurity professionals begin to understand blockchain and obtain IT training on blockchain if they do not have this knowledge. As more and more businesses look towards multi-layer solutions, having knowledge and being a Certified Blockchain specialist, will provide added value to the business and to your resume.