Blockchain and Industrial IoT: Data Integrity Matters

Author: Michael Hathaway, Chairman of the Cognida Foundation

There are no longer questions about the value of IoT in industrial settings. Cost savings alone are fully funding massive Industrial IoT (IIoT) projects, across verticals and applications including energy power plants, public transportation hubs, manufacturing facilities, smart cities, smart buildings, and more.

While consumer IoT (wearables, consumer electronics, smart homes, smart appliance, smart cars and other single-user applications) continues to rise in adoption, the ROI for enterprises who are now scaling deployments beyond initial Proof-of-Concept projects and testbeds is so clear that budgeting dollars have are now growing, most often based on productivity and operational gains.

IIoT requires solutions to ensure the integrity of the data, applications and infrastructure. The best approach to this, in our experience, is a decentralized, distributed, hashed, and timestamped database, otherwise known as a blockchain.

By giving large enterprises and manufacturers the ability to own and control their data, they are in a much stronger position to detect and respond to security attacks or breaches, which can be devastating when it comes to digital industrialization, particularly associated with critical infrastructure (power grids, public water supplies, public safety networks, and more).

Before enterprises invest in industrial IoT broad deployments, it’s important that they ask themselves: can we trust our data?

Data assets stored in the cloud are incredibly vulnerable to intentional and non-intentional interference. This security challenge has deterred some industries—particularly those heavily regulated when it comes to data in motion and data at rest—from moving their IT operations to the cloud. Given the amplification of the number of endpoints in IIoT solutions, this concern has grown deeper, given that connected devices can be corrupted or tampered with, potentially causing accidents on an industrial scale.

Blockchain data integrity solves for this by directly addressing the reduction of risk through the immutable distributed ledger.

With a combination of public and private networks, and public and private keys, industrial IoT deployments (including those in the field, for example wide-ranging energy grid environments), enterprises and organizations can secure data with blockchain technologies (such as Ethereum) that ensure the data, configurations, and firmware have not compromised, and to provide evidence of legal and regulatory compliance.

Cognida’s network and platform, available via our open source, non-profit foundation, contributes to the efficient development of blockchain solutions by enabling enterprises to run large systems based on policy and permissions, managed through a universal system.

Regardless of the specific blockchain technology chosen, our technology is intentionally agnostic and enhances the ability of IT teams to roll out and manage IIoT systems with greater operational efficiency and attention to security.

Cognida’s approach is the “key” to scalability as well, given our software unifies applications calling for public and private key management (or fully private key management).

Portable across geographies, organizational boundaries, and service providers, Cognida’s technology was designed from the ground up to work within the context of industry standards and architected to enable data verification in near real-time for continuous monitoring and surveillance.

We know that data must be as accurate as it can be, managed in new ways, through “trustless systems,” continually verified. Data integrity is not just about the accuracy of the data relative to whatever it is measuring; particularly in the IIoT, data integrity guarantees data has not been modified,  accidentally or deliberately.

Blockchains don’t depend on a central authority. Every miner is just as important (and unimportant) as the other. They each interact with an identical copy of the database. As a result, there is no single point of failure. Any device participating in a blockchain could be corrupted or destroyed, and the blockchain would remain intact.

With a blockchain-based solution for IIoT, zero-day data integrity attacks can be detected right away.

In summary, if you are responsible for ensuring the integrity of a micro energy grid, or a macro energy grid, having blockchain in place to protect and understand data is absolutely the right approach. Cognida’s network and platform make is easier to register devices, set up connections, manage data in motion and at rest, regardless of the specific blockchain you choose.

The blockchain enterprises choose should be:

  • Fast
  • Efficient
  • Scalable
  • Continuously verified
  • Integrated into existing and new security operations
  • Manageable by the responsible IT team members

Look for complete attribution (knowing where the data is coming from, knowing the data is secure), with massive scale built in, and forensic level auditing tools.

Choose a blockchain solution that secures the integrity of the network, and it’s related operating and billing systems.  The rewards for securing data trust are immense – from avoiding downtime to eliminating reputational risk when systems are compromised.

To learn more about the Cognida Network and Platform, download our business white paper here.

By |2019-02-12T17:45:40+00:00July 26th, 2018|Blockchain for IOT and IIoT|

About the Author:

Michael H.