When IoT Meets Blockchain

At first glance, they may not seem like they have anything to do with each other. But when technology trends as hot as the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain are involved, you can bet that lots of smart, ambitious people are working overtime to find ways to leverage both at the same time.

The world is full of connected devices–and more are coming. In 2017, there were an estimated 8.4 billion internet-enabled thermostats, cameras, streetlights and other electronics. By 2020 that number could exceed 20 billion, and by 2030 there could be 500 billion or more. Because they’ll all be online all the time, each of those devices–whether a voice-recognition personal assistant or a pay-by-phone parking meter or a temperature sensor deep in an industrial robot–will be vulnerable to a cyberattack and could even be part of one.

Inevitably, with all these connected devices, there are bound to be some failures, and there have been. Blockchain, the decentralized ledger system that enables cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum to thrive, is also proving to have beneficial use cases that extend far beyond just cryptocurrencies. The blockchain offers many benefits including its unparalleled security, its decentralized system, and its broad usability.

Bringing blockchain to IoT will introduce the emerging blockchain concept to a broad audience. For IoT, blockchain seems poised to provide increased capability, improved reliability, and valuable security enhancements that will help proliferate both platforms.

Allowing access to data from IoT devices to be managed through blockchains would mean an additional layer of security that any malignant actor would have to bypass – one that would be secured by some of the most robust encryption standards available.

A recent whitepaper from Siva Gopal at Tata Consultancy Services suggest four ways IoT can exploit blockchain technology:

  • Trust building
  • Cost reduction
  • Accelerated data exchanges
  • Scaled security

Blockchain and IoT are both technologies which have big promises to keep. Both are already being widely and enthusiastically adopted by industry and the public sector, and there is a great deal of speculation about where each of them will lead. Combining them could be the key to ensuring those promises are kept while minimizing the security and business risks that go hand-in-hand with technological change.

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