Blockchain’s reach has gone past FinTech and is now finding more applications in cybersecurity. Threats have become more rampant and complex. As such, cybersecurity firms are now looking to leverage these emerging technologies to provide improved solutions to these threats.
Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks remain to be among the top concerns for many businesses. Such attacks disrupt services by overwhelming a target network and render it inaccessible to users. An Accenture report on cybersecurity threats for the first half of 2017 reveals that the DDoS-for-hire ecosystem is thriving. Attackers can easily rent botnets giving attackers easier access to tools and resources to disrupt their victim’s operations.
Fortunately, DDoS mitigation services are also evolving. Most modern security and infrastructure services offer DDoS mitigation alongside other services such as content delivery networks (CDNs) and web application firewalls.
However, there is now a growing criticism against a centralized approach to infrastructure and security. The DDoS attack against Dyn last year serves as proof that an attack against a centralized authority could have a catastrophic impact across users and their dependents. As a response, blockchain-based decentralized security solutions are emerging to offer an alternative and arguably better approach to cybersecurity.
The emergence of blockchain as a development platform has given rise to decentralized services. As opposed to a centralized approach, these new services rely on blockchain’s distributed network in order to pool together network and computing resources that can be used for a variety of purposes including cybersecurity.
For example, security startup Gladius.io offers a blockchain-based CDN and DDoS mitigation service. Through the service, users can rent out spare network bandwidth and resources to support content delivery and bot mitigation. Since the service is decentralized, it becomes more difficult for attackers to effectively pinpoint their vector of attack in order to bring down one particular service.
In a recent white paper, explaining the product, “Gladius can facilitate the creation of the extremely fault tolerant and inexpensive pools tailored to a client’s specific needs. Aside from just filtering traffic, these pools will be able to accelerate content as well. By decentralizing and removing the middleman, the whole nature of protecting a website will change.”
For instance, attackers can simply focus on overwhelming an edge node server of a traditional CDN provider. This can already cause a disruption to the service and all the other applications and sites that rely on the server. Since distributed networks can have more machines performing this function, it could be difficult for attackers to identify all of these machines and attack each one to effectively disrupt a service.
More businesses are using their online infrastructure to interface with customers and collect data which makes them prime targets for cyberattacks. Often, small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are the ones most vulnerable to cyberattacks due to their lack of investments in cybersecurity. In the UK, almost half of SMEs will only plan to spend £1,000 (about US$1,350) or less over the next 12 months. In contrast, the downtime caused by a DDoS attack costs an average of US$20,000 an hour.
The meager security budget of SMEs only gives access to lower service tiers that do not guarantee the best protection and uptime. While there are services like Cloudflare that offer free tiers for basic CDN and mitigation services, most of the existing security providers command a price premium for their top service tiers.
This new decentralized model then becomes a welcome development in this regard. Through such an approach, services could offer more flexible packages aimed to sustain web applications or services based on its size and needs. A blockchain-based marketplace for such services also offers transparency in pricing and transactions which could then encourage the market to create fair pricing. Lower barriers to security services ultimately enables more businesses and developers to adopt and implement security measures.
Speed and security
Wider adoption of such services could enhance computing in general. Implementing a CDN already enhances a site or application’s response time. Affordable CDN services would allow more businesses to provide quicker page loads and response times to customers.
DDoS mitigation also helps thwart other forms of attacks. DDoS attacks are often used to mask data breaches and malware implantation. Preventing one of the methods of attack could discourage further attempts at systems. Better overall security also encourages trust among business and users. This greatly enhances user experiences for everyone.
The ultimate weapon?
While it may be a currently be a stretch to call blockchain the “ultimate” weapon for cybersecurity, the technology does offer many exciting opportunities to enhance cybersecurity. Blockchain’s features open up new ways to combat these rampant threats.
A decentralized approach to network resources makes it tougher for attackers to bring down services through DDoS attacks. These new approaches could also help thwart probing attacks and discourage attackers from launching more disruptive attempts such as data breaches and malware. In addition, new blockchain services are also addressing areas of security such as authentication and identity.
Moreover, a blockchain marketplace could help maximize resources that are already available. A transparent marketplace for security services also creates more accessible and fair pricing that could allow more businesses to finally implement industry-grade security.
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