Your Business is as Secure as You Make It

Security is a top concern for businesses today. It’s important to remember that your business is only as secure as you make it.

Businesses today have a laundry list of things to consider when making decisions. One of the top concerns for businesses around the world today is security. Security means protecting not just proprietary business information, but keeping employee information and customer data away from prying eyes. There have been an increase in cyberattacks of late, and no sector of business is unaffected. Recently, it was even discovered that blockchain, previously and erroneously thought to be unhackable, has proven to be hackable time and time again.

Blockchain is a complicated piece of technology, a way to secure your information in a specific way that is unlikely to be duplicated. According to MIT Technology Review, “A blockchain is a cryptographic database maintained by a network of computers, each of which stores a copy of the most up-to-date version. A blockchain protocol is a set of rules that dictate how the computers in the network, called nodes, should verify new transactions and add them to the database. The protocol employs cryptography, game theory, and economics to create incentives for the nodes to work toward securing the network instead of attacking it for personal gain. If set up correctly, this system can make it extremely difficult and expensive to add false transactions but relatively easy to verify valid ones.”

We’ve discussed blockchain in the past, the benefits of its security features and how distributed ledger can strengthen that security. Cryptocurrency uses blockchain to ensure transactions are secure and to keep a record of those transactions. Cryptocurrency exchanges, where people buy, sell and trade cryptocurrency, have recently come under attack. Coinbase is one such exchange, and in January it noticed odd happenings in Ethereum Classic, marking the first attack on a top-20 currency. Hackers gained control of over half of the network’s computing power and used it to rewrite transaction history. In doing so, the attackers were able to reuse currency which had already been used, known as a “double spend.” The hackers made off with over $1 million. Coinbase indicated that no actual cryptocurrency was stolen, but another exchange called lost $200,000 in the attack.

When set up and implemented properly, blockchain is an effective method of securing data and keeping a transaction history. Smart contracts also use blockchain because blockchain requires that tasks be completed in sequence. So a smart contract can’t move forward without the items completed in the right order. However, blockchain is not infallible, nothing is, so it’s important to have other security methods in place as well. 

Your business is only as secure as you make it. Every business should have layers of security so that when a weak spot in the system is found, another layer can cover the hole. The blockchain hacks don’t just apply to cryptocurrency or smart contracts, there are other uses for blockchain in different industries. Any business that uses blockchain should heavily review these attacks and make sure their code is updated with the most recent security measures. While reviewing that code, teams should ensure the integrity of the data to ensure it has not been tampered with or altered in any way. It may not be a small task, but if you want to ensure you aren’t on the hook for a breach you didn’t know about, it’s best to find out sooner than later.

Blockchain is complicated. Having layers of security that all work together and function is complicated. Don’t leave these things to chance, bring in a security expert who can help ensure success, someone who can train your team or be available to assist should problems arise.

About the Author

Pieter VanIperen, Managing Partner of PWV Consultants, leads a boutique group of industry leaders and influencers from the digital tech, security and design industries that acts as trusted technical partners for many Fortune 500 companies, high-visibility startups, universities, defense agencies, and NGOs. He is a 20-year software engineering veteran, who founded or co-founder several companies. He acts as a trusted advisor and mentor to numerous early stage startups, and has held the titles of software and software security executive, consultant and professor. His expert consulting and advisory work spans several industries in finance, media, medical tech, and defense contracting. Has also authored the highly influential precursor HAZL (jADE) programming language.

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