The blockchain is said to be an indestructible digital ledger that can be formulated to record essentially anything of value. Some people believe that it is one of the greatest achievements since the internet due to the data being stored using sophisticated math and innovative software. It is the underlying technology to what is commonly known as Bitcoin. Every time digital coins are purchased, sold, or transferred on a decentralized exchange and used to buy goods or services virtually, the transaction is recorded with an encryption to protect it from cybercriminals. Blockchain technology is constantly growing which makes it more attractive for those that intend to use it as a threat. The question is what are the risks or security issues and how do developers mitigate them to maintain the security of blockchain technology?
To clarify, the whole point of using a blockchain is to let people who do not trust one another share data in a secure, tamper proof way, but even the best designed systems can fail especially when it encounters a hacker. Any technology can have its weak points and attack vectors, so blockchain is no exception. There are constant reports in the news about hacks related to all types of different technology. Many reasons can contribute to the security being compromised; a major issue is that many companies including the government, fail to keep their system’s software updated. When dealing with a network of computers if just one person fails to update their system it can be catastrophic to the entire network.
It may come to a surprise for some that blockchain security is an issue at all. And therein lies the danger associated with this type of technology. According to (McAfee, 2018) an article called McAfee Highlights Blockchain Cybersecurity Risks, the cybersecurity risk activity is seen in four key attack vectors: scams, viruses, misuse, and vulnerabilities. The most likely risk of them all is originated outside of the blockchain itself called endpoints. This refers to the points along the blockchain where technology devices and humans communicate. For instance, cryptocurrency, which is digital currency designed to replace cash. It is decentralized, meaning it is distributed over a less concentrated area. Cybercriminals have been known to create fake cryptocurrency services to steal millions of dollars from innocent customers.
Fortunately, there are things that can be done to prevent and hopefully solve certain security issues. (Rash, 2018) states that to protect any operating system, first install a patch, which will fix and improve the usefulness or functionality of the software. Second, a current version of anti-malware software must be installed to ensure endpoints are guarded. Lastly, thorough training for anyone that will have access to the system will need to take place. Those that are trained efficiently can easily detect any sudden changes in computer speed or performance which is usually a sign of an issue. According to (Yale, 2018) the founders of The Certik Project believe that they have created a system that will fix all security issues that may arise and “forever change the way things have been done.”
With the continuing growth of blockchain technology, the vulnerabilities can increase as well. System administrators and users will need to stay well educated on current threats to keep cybercriminals from succeeding. As a result, there will be a definite need for extensive cybersecurity updates and new system software to safeguard against attacks on all levels.