Hey guys, in this Blog I will be discussing the Integration of Blockchain with IoT (Internet of Things).
So, let’s proceed with what IoT actually is.
What is Iot?
Internet of things is an environment of connected physical devices embedded in various systems and accessible on the Internet, thus rendering these devices to become autonomous and can be controlled through their digital representation. The whole idea behind IoT is based on the transfer of data between two physical devices connected over a network and thus based on these data they act, like simulating the temperature of a house as in the case of smart homes, saving your attendance in a database as in for RFID.
Some of the industries and technologies developed on IoT includes smart homes, automotive environment, Healthcare, smart cities, smart grids, smartwatches, banking sector, etc.
perks of iot:
If technology is being used in multiple industries, it is a bit obvious that it should have some edge over the rest. The benefits of IoT are:
- Communication: As discussed, it enables Machine-to-Machine(M2M) communication over the network on which both of them are connected.
- Automation with control: Devices are controlled over a centralized wireless infrastructure, thus enhancing automation. This brings out an efficient communication between the devices, leading to output at a greater speed.
- Monitoring over Information: The amount of data we receive through these IoT devices is enormous and hence it can be used to monitor the efficiency of these devices as well as take the algorithmic decisions more effectively due to this huge dataset.
- Saves Money: Optimum usage of energy and resources with proper surveillance helps in avoiding possible shutdowns (as in industries), damages or waste of resources.
Thus, the price paid for implementing these IoT devices is very minimal when compared to the benefits it provides.
problems in iot:
“With a great amount of data comes out a greater responsibility to process it safely”.
The IoT network is a centralized one and also contains a large number of devices and involves the application of a huge set of data points, which requires security. This not only expands the attack surface, and hence IoT security and IoT privacy are huge concerns.
A case of such an IoT attack that took place in 2016, in this Mirai (a Botnet) penetrated in the domain name service provider Dyn and performed a DDoS (Denial of Service Attack) for a huge period, as a result, a large number of websites were down. It was achieved as the attackers gained access to this centralized network through the poorly connected IoT devices.
With such a huge vulnerability, it becomes non-practical to implement IoT in industries, Healthcare, or Banking sector where data security and privacy is a major concern. Also, the network is centralized hence the manufacturer, who is the most probable administrator to this can gain access to data. Hacker just has to find one vulnerability to gain access to the network and he will be able to gain control over the entire network.
Blockchain to rescue!!
To extend the properties of decentralization and data encryption to IoT, Blockchain is a major technology
being looked up to. Blockchain can ensure the decentralization of the network thus greatly reducing the
chances of any attacks on the IoT devices on the network. Also, encryption can be achieved at multiple
data entry points. Some of the features that can be added to IoT with the use of Blockchain are:
- Identity: using a common blockchain network every node can identify all the devices. Data provided to the system is immutable and holds a record of every change in it. Also, the authentication of each device becomes more secure.
- Scalability: using a blockchain network the fault tolerance and the system scalability also improves.
- Security: blockchain can be used to secure the data contained in the network as transactions. Here, the data transfer is treated as a transaction that follows the rules set by the Smart Contracts.
- Autonomy: using Blockchain the interaction of devices is decentralized and hence there are no servers. This makes the deployment of smart autonomous hardware possible for the service.
- Secure code deployment: the deployment of codes into the devices also becomes more secure with the use of Blockchain. Thus, the developer can be confident that the code running on the device is the one he wrote and not the one by some malicious attacker.
problems in the integration
It’s not very simple to merge the two mentioned technologies which were not designed to work with one another and hence almost all the features that we added above as the benefits have certain restrictions.
Blockchain was made to be operated with much accessible Internet along with a device supporting high computational power which is not a property of IoT devices. Some other problems faced while the integration of the two is:
- Storage capacity: IoT devices produce a huge amount of data in a real-time application while the blockchains we want to implement perform only a few transactions per sec. Thus, Blockchains are not meant to store this huge amount of data.
- Security: the security problems at different levels furthermore increase with additional complexity as a result of a large variety of devices. Blockchain ensures the immutability of the data in the chains but cannot detect if the data received is already corrupt due to some hardware failure, environment change, etc. Thus, the IoT devices to be used on the blockchain need to be checked properly to avoid any such probable cause to occur.
- Anonymity and data privacy: IoT devices that are used in the Healthcare sector or Banking sector deal with many private details and it is important to establish trust for data privacy and anonymity. But the problem of data privacy in IoT devices is complicated than the private and public Blockchain network as it starts with the collection of data and goes up to application level.
Hence securing the device requires the integration of security cryptographic software’s which generally harm the resource limitations of devices and hence economic viability.
- Smart Contracts: the killer application of blockchain technology presents many challenges to IoT technology as they do not fit in IoT applications easily. Validation of these Smart Contracts is compromised if the IoT is not stable. Also accessing multiple data sources can result in overloading these contracts.
- Consensus: the limited resource in IoT devices makes the PoW consensus unsuitable, there are other proposed consensus mechanisms (PoS, PoU, etc) but these are still not mature enough for their implementation. The initiatives have been taken of implementing full nodes into IoT devices, mining is a big challenge in IoT due to these limitations.
The Hybrid approach, using only a part of the interactions and data takes place in the blockchain and the rest are directly shared between the IoT devices, has been used in fog computation and is being tested for application in other domains, so we can safely say that the possibilities are high. Hope things work out well between the two great technologies.