Posted 1 month ago | by Catoshi Nakamoto
A much-needed bridge for rapidly growing IoT infrastructure to scale securely
The technology that underpins so many vital industry frameworks around the globe is evolving at a rapid pace. Businesses from every corner of the industry are looking for ways to keep up with demand, whilst at the same time streamlining processes and maintaining high levels of data security.
But as the mainstream population’s appetite for technology increases by the day, the technical glue that sticks the world’s biggest industries together is quickly becoming outdated and inefficient. The Internet of Things (IoT) is one such industry and, in this article, we look at how although still somewhat nascent in its stages of development, the sector already requires a “level up” if it is to deliver upon its promises of managing efficient energy consumption, urban development and population growth.
IoT and Smart Cities: Constructing the Future
IoT connects computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data. The possibilities for this technology are seemingly endless; we are already witnessing the rise of the “smart home”, which offers the inhabitants automated control of lighting, climate, entertainment systems and appliances, taking steps toward reducing carbon footprints and saving energy.
There are an estimated 175 million smart homes in the world and the US is expected to have 63 million connected homes by 2022. In a relatively short period, IoT has significantly expanded and now connects billions of devices and networks in homes, workplaces, transportation systems, and even entire smart cities, with the market size set to grow considerably in the coming years.
But this plan for huge scaling requires careful consideration given the fact that user data, some of it quite sensitive, is constantly being transferred and communicated between billions of devices around the globe. Security is of top importance in the field of IoT, but there are also valid concerns about data integrity within the current landscape.
Is IoT secure?
The short answer to this is, unfortunately, not as secure as we’d like. The saying goes that “the S in IoT stands for Security” and somewhat surprisingly, when it comes to cybersecurity IoT has failed to keep up with development in the enterprise IT world; IoT systems are vulnerable when connected to the unwieldy internet, with security concerns sadly hindering IoT’s scaling efforts and wider deployment
Security vulnerabilities in IoT devices make them an easy target for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, with a number of incidents in recent years causing major disruptions for organisations and individuals alike.
As our appliances and devices become more inextricably linked than ever, the Internet of Things has been increasingly associated with cyber-attacks, some involving the hijacking and abuse of surveillance cameras and other vulnerable connected devices, to facilitate malicious and illegal activities. The industry’s current shortcomings in attempts to secure billions of devices have often come under fire and, unsurprisingly, calls for viable solutions that could fill the security gap.
Blockchain and IoT: Accelerating the Internet of Things
A Gartner study estimates that blockchain technology will add $3.1 trillion in business value by 2030, with a plethora of industries able to benefit from the expanded security, scalability and functionality that blockchain provides. Utilising blockchain’s trustless mechanics, businesses can stop relying on centralised models and look toward a future of an automated industry that is free of human reliance and therefore human error and bad actors.
In the IoT world, blockchain and distributed frameworks can reduce the risk of devices being compromised through a central authority and can also massively improve the scalability of IoT as a whole. When coupled with blockchain’s verifiable, secure and immutable mechanisms, IoT has the power to become a more secure machine with no human reliance and with efficient decision-making processes that take place at the drop of a hat.
The opportunity to greatly improve the security of IoT systems with the use of blockchain has not gone unnoticed, with some of the world’s largest companies, such as Telefonica, one of the largest telephone operators and mobile network providers in the world, making moves to combine IoT infrastructure with blockchain technology. Deloitte and IBM are other notable industry leaders dedicating considerable time and resources towards exploring possible integrations and benefits of utilising blockchain.
Verifiable Computation with Cartesi
The world’s billions of IoT products, ranging from tiny wearables to larger industrial devices, rely on huge amounts of data to function and interact with each other. Therefore, ensuring the authenticity and integrity of this data is crucial for the correctness and safety of many IoT applications.
Currently, this data is, in the majority of instances, stored within a third-party cloud which by design will be centralised and therefore can not be fully trusted. Data has the potential to be corrupted by malicious cloud employees, outside attackers, storage faults and more.
A survey conducted by McAfee highlighted that 25% of cloud tenants have experienced data theft from the public cloud at some stage, with 20% of cloud tenants experiencing an advanced attack against their public cloud infrastructure. With tampered or erroneous data, IoT applications could potentially make the wrong decisions and cause economic losses or in the worst cases, lead to the loss of human life.
Cartesi opens a whole new avenue for IoT with the introduction of truly “verifiable computation”. It has not before been possible to have verifiable general-purpose computation running on smart devices; IoT DApps running inside Cartesi Machines can process virtually unlimited amounts of data, whilst executing verifiable and enforceable computation, meaning that the risk of data corruption and authenticity is mitigated enormously.
Combined with the immutable, distributed and transparent mechanics of public blockchains, Cartesi’s verifiable computation paves the way for an explosion of opportunities within the IoT industry.
Building strength in IoT systems
Cartesi also makes it possible for businesses within IoT and their development teams to benefit from the strong security guarantees of the Ethereum blockchain, whilst keeping access to the traditional and battle-tested Linux tools that they’re used to. Enterprise applications that run on sensitive data can scale massively with Cartesi but, at the same time, preserve user privacy on IoT DApps and devices.
Integrating Cartesi allows IoT platforms to build more resilient and fraud-proof systems. We have already begun exploring the potential for Cartesi within IoT through our recent partnership and incubation of Creol, an IoT commercial building control system that carbon offsets itself in real-time to be a carbon-neutral building control system.
Creol is implementing Cartesi in their IoT devices to ensure that building stats measurements and computations are verifiable and securely inserted on Ethereum and, by porting Cartesi’s virtual machine to run on ARM devices, they are able to offer a trustless solution in the carbon credits market which is currently not regulated by the FCA.
Cartesi + Iota
The recent announcement of our partnership with Iota is another milestone on the road toward improving and expanding the adoption and development of smart contracts for IoT. We will be working together towards a future of accessible smart contract development for enterprises that want to put security and scalability first.
By integrating IOTA Oracles into the Cartesi computational oracle, we will enable smart devices and corporate servers to check data integrity and provenance, as well as giving them the functionality to execute verifiable batch processing.
Enabling tomorrow’s limitless potential
Today’s gradual advance into the age of the industrial internet is being greatly accelerated through the accessibility and utilisation of blockchain technology alongside artificial intelligence, automation and machine learning. By allowing billions of devices to connect with each other simultaneously, the giants of the industry are changing the way we live, work and communicate.
But in order to make the necessary leaps that will enable hyper-scalability of IoT, networks and platforms must evolve to overcome the current security challenges.
Cartesi is here to bridge the gap between traditional development and blockchain technology, with products that give access to the tools recognised by traditional developers but that are able to go beyond the limitations of current mainstream software development. By doing this we aim to facilitate the changes necessary for the major developments planned in IoT in the coming years.
Cartesi’s Ecosystem Links:
Discord (Development Community): https://discordapp.com/invite/Pt2NrnS
Telegram Announcements: https://t.me/cartesiannouncements
Original article published on Cartesi’s Medium.