Blockchain and IIoT – A necessary alliance

Depending on the publications you follow you’d probably know that IIoT is slated to be the biggest technology advancement since the advent of the personal computer. With an estimated 20 billion connected devices by the end of 2020, the world is going to be a giant mesh of devices with the capability of communicating and transacting with each other, without human intervention.

The cost and accuracy benefits are enormous, and business leaders are taking note. You can see IIoT creeping into various industries, old and new, traditional and contemporary. Factory floors are now run by people behind computers, monitoring work done by robots and machines. Transportation and logistics companies use IIoT systems to monitor fuel consumption of their entire fleet while they’re on the move.

Managing data transfer, securely 

As with any rapidly growing technology, adjacent technologies grow with them. In the case of IoT, communication is a very important component. IIoT systems inherently transfer copious amounts of data between the devices within them. With the advent of higher bandwidth communication mediums, like Li-Fi and LTE, we may be ahead of the curve with respect to the problem of volume.

However, a lot of the communication between devices are transactional in nature, which shares sensitive information like identity and financial authenticators. Even simply tampering with the data to make it inaccurate, will have life threatening implications in IoT systems like Biotelemetry.

It is said that security systems are always one generation behind the latest system cracking techniques. As we stand today, the rate of increase in connected devices is going make it tough on security experts, due to the sheer volumes of the data that need to be protected. Furthermore, the implications of a compromised IIoT system far outweighs the internet and software security threats that we have faced till today.

To be prepared to secure sensitive data of this volume, we are going to need a leapfrog innovation in security architecture.

Blockchain to the rescue

Everyone in the tech industry is on board the Bitcoin hype-train, but the underlying technology that powers has a lot of potential in solving IoT’s security problem. While most systems take a centralised stand on system architecture, most modern cyber security experts believe that a decentralised approach would not only be an effective and inexpensive way of going about this, but also much more secure.

You can think of blockchain as a distributed ledger, where transactions can be managed by the two entities involved in it, without the need for a central processor. Furthermore, every entity involved in the transaction will have a record of it, and hence even if one of them is compromised or tampered with, there are others who will have a record of the transaction. Here’s a great video explaining blockchain –

Today, importing and exporting energy from the grid is maintained by a central grid authority, mainly the electricity board. This makes the device level vulnerabilities subject to exploitation resulting in loss of money for the end user.

This is where blockchain really makes a difference. A blockchain system governing energy transfer between the grid and the home will transact with the blockchain’s currency. Given that this currency is locked within a system, system level faults will be rectified using the distributed ledger and smart contracts.

Also in the solar world, connecting data loggers which grabs solar output in real time to push it to multiple blockchains, will make the system more robust, democratic and less vulnerable to attacks.

With more connected devices governing energy consumption, the threat posed by hackers will be a lot more. Since, there is no single point of failure, blockchain systems are harder to bring down.

The future

This would be the quantum jump in security that IoT would need. A 2015 Gartner report says that traditional security methods would constantly fail IoT systems, and it would need technologies like Blockchain to replace existing systems. Most industries handling financial data are set to use Blockchain based systems in next 5 years or so. But that’s not all.

Blockchain has drastically reduced the computations required to achieve a high level of security and that has opened the door to being able to implement of complex AI operations. Given the amount of varied data sets that can emerge out of simple IIoT systems, there is need for complex AI powered analysis to properly interpret it and thereby perform the right actions. Blockchain’s method of working allows that.

This is an exciting time to be in. The traditional names you would associate with IoT, like Google or Apple, aren’t powering the next tech revolution. It’s large industries, in manufacturing and energy, who want to make more of their data, who are the driving force behind the advancements in Blockchain, IIoT and AI.

Energy sector’s shift to blockchain won’t happen all at once. While the revolution takes place, you can check out our industry grade data loggers to ensure high data accuracy between solar panels and monitoring systems.

 

 

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