People think the Internet of Things (IoT) is all about an untold number of devices, gadgets, sensors and industrial controllers (billions of them) talking to a network and in some cases to one another. It’s an exciting future. Yes, it’s that but it’s also the definition of scale run amuck, like a constantly expanding universe with no known boundaries or limits. That doesn’t make the IoT endemically a nightmare for security defenders but it does pose more questions than answers at this point.
When considered through that prism, securing the IoT is not unlike aligning the stars. It’s a nice thought but, well, you know. For now, trust and identity validation, to verify the identity of individual devices via the blockchain which itself is inherently secure, appears to be a solid answer, wrapped in the caveat that IoT security is newborn fresh.
It’s the basis of Atonomi, the blockchain arm of IoT security provider Centri Technology, via the newly launched Atonomi Network, a crypto-security protocol aimed at advanced trust and identity validation for IoT devices. It builds on Ethereum technology, a decentralized platform -- the product of a bootstrapped Swiss nonprofit -- that runs applications on a custom built blockchain exactly as programmed without downtime, censorship, fraud or third-party interference.
According to the Ethereum Foundation’s website, the technology enables “developers to create markets, store registries of debts or promises, move funds in accordance with instructions given long in the past (like a will or a futures contract) and many other things that have not been invented yet, all without a middle man or counterparty risk.” Sounds like the framework of IoT security.
Indeed, it’s suitable to the IoT, Atonomi said, because it provides an “immutable blockchain-based identity and reputation service to secure the vast realm of IoT devices – ranging from home automation systems, to smart-city infrastructure, to industrial sensors and controllers.” The project is backed by VC firm LaunchCapital.
According to Atonomi, the protocol’s advantages include validated device identity, reputational tracking, an immutable blockchain-based ledger of things, interoperability across industrial and consumer devices, and a partner-focused extensibility model to enable broad adoption of the solution.
For example, Atonomi’s network will help secure the IoT and its real world applications, the company said, pointing to homeowners validating on-premise devices and helping to thwart hackers accessing personal information. And, with the industrial IoT, it can protect against hackers gaining control of the sensors, controllers, and other devices that regulate the infrastructure, such as hydroelectric dams and utility grids.
“We are focused on extensibility of the Atonomi Network so that vendors will be able to build distributed applications, known as DApps, using our protocol and secure infrastructure to meet the precise security needs of specialized verticals and custom use cases,” said Vaughan Emery, Atonomi CEO.
“IoT already enhances many aspects of our lives, but the current challenges that plague security, including the absence of identity validation and device trust mechanisms, impede the way we transact and interact. By verifying the identity of individual devices via the blockchain, the Atonomi Network will help the IoT reach its full potential for scale,” he said.