Role of blockchain in the face of cyber threats

Blockchain technology is fast gaining acceptance all over the world.

This sudden change of fortune for technology that has been in existence since the release of the first bitcoin white paper in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto has been fuelled by cyber threats.

The threats are posed to data stored on the conventional computing information management systems by hackers, malware attacks and data manipulators.

While blockchain has been largely synonymous with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Primecoin and others, it is the fundamental technology that these digital currencies ride on.

This technology relies on the concept of decentralised, distributed ledger system in which many participants (nodes) located in different parts of the globe partake in the validation of information processed and stored in the system.

This means a majority of the nodes in the ecosystem must agree to data alterations before it is authenticated, and this is the strength of blockchain over the current computing systems.

Benjamin Arunda, a blockchain expert and author of the book ‘Understanding the blockchain’ says:

“Blockchain distributes authority of validating transactions, and when it is distributed to a number of nodes in an industry or in a system that means a central authority will not be able to corrupt the system. If it can be adopted in our institutions that means the issue of distrust can be mitigated to a great extent.”

Citizen Digital is privy to a circular from the Association of Kenya Insurers (AKI) to member insurance companies encouraging them to undertake in-depth research and explore opportunities provided by blockchain technology to the industry.

This document authored by AKI executive director T.M Gichuhi is a testament to the increasing trust in blockchain. According to Arunda, uptake of this technology will be faster than the spread of the internet.

“If you are facing challenges of distrust in your company or in your transactions, if you realise a solution and you have the money. Nothing will stop you from adopting that technology to help you deal with the distrust”, he adds.

The recommendation by AKI comes at the backdrop of increased emphasis on the advantages of blockchain technology by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his cabinet secretary for ICT Joe Mucheru.

In February 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed CS Mucheru to form blockchain technology and Internet of Things (IoT) taskforce. “As a country, we cannot let these opportunities pass us by,” he said.

The taskforce headed by former PS in the ministry of ICT Bitange Ndemo is expected to give a comprehensive report that will among other things guide the country on modalities to leverage on this technology.

On June 3 this year, 18 crucial public information websites were taken over and completely defaced by a group of hackers called Kurd Electronics Group from Indonesia.

In a statement, the government refuted claims that citizens’ data in its possession was compromised or stolen in the attack.

Experts say that ‘data is the new oil for businesses today’ and, therefore, believe that it was a targeted attack by a group of hackers targeting some data for most likely commercial interests.

Benjamin Arunda notes that such attacks will only increase in frequency in the future and blockchain systems would safeguard the country from the menace since it is almost impossible for all the participants (nodes) in a system to conspire to corrupt the system.