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We’ve already seen cryptocurrency technology shaping and changing the world as we know it. From introducing new ways to pay to transforming the online casino industry cryptocurrencies, and the blockchain technology behind them, have been revolutionary! But could Bitcoin, which remains one of the leading cryptocurrencies, be set to help make the IoT a reality for us all?
What is the IoT?
You’ve probably heard of the Internet of Things (IoT) by now. It’s the technology that promises to make our lives easier by offering greater connectivity for all of our devices. On a basic level, it could allow our phones to talk to our washing machines, our lights and our electricity meters. ‘Why would anyone want this?’ you might be wondering. Well, imagine being able to connect your alarm clock to your coffee machine, so as soon as you are up and ready for the day you’ll have a coffee waiting for you. The idea is that greater connectivity will make our everyday lives easier and help us to save valuable energy.
On a wider scale, there’s potential for the components of machines to be able to ‘talk’ to each other. From jet engines in aeroplanes to drills on oil rigs, a greater insight into the inner workings of machinery could improve safety and make vehicles more efficient. IoT has even been introduced in the healthcare sector to help make transferring patient data, particularly from homes to hospitals, quicker and easier.
Thinking even bigger than this, the IoT could even be used to connect public transport systems, allowing the creation of “smart cities” which will run at maximum efficiency, reducing waste and excess energy consumption. The opportunities really are endless – essentially anything with an on/off switch can be connected to the IoT and each other.
What are the problems?
This all sounds pretty great, right? There’s some serious potential behind the concept that will bring us one step closer to living our very own Sci-Fi movie reality. Automated cars that are programmed to your exact calendar, seamless public transport systems… It seems too good to be true, and it sort of is. There is so much potential for the technology but there are also a huge number of problems.
The problem with data is that there’s going to be too much of it. Storage of this data is one of the main hindrances in the development of the IoT on a wide scale. According to Gartner, approximately 26 billion units of storage will be installed by 2020. It’s going to become possible to put a processor into just about every device you can think of. However, storing this data opens up a huge number of privacy and security issues which we’ll come on to next.
Privacy and Security
A whole new security landscape is going to open up with the mass digitalisation of our devices’ data. Businesses and enterprises will have a responsibility to protect both their own data and customers’ sensitive information. At the same time, its likely businesses are going to want to utilise their customers’ data as best they can to gain a greater understanding of purchasing and use habits. This is important for improving the performance of the IoT, but consumers have a right to privacy. Where will the moral line be drawn? Will new regulations be introduced? These are just some of the questions the development of the IoT is creating.
Cybercrime is on the rise, and since 2017 has seen some of the biggest cyber-attacks in history, how will our new “smart cities” continue to run in the event of a cyber-attack? Ransomware, like WannaCry, already has the potential to attack computers around the world.
What’s the solution?
With so many problems, it seems that the IoT may never become a widespread reality. However, a new Bitcoin botnet, called NeuroMesh, is fighting for the opportunity to provide the secure future the IoT needs.
As previously mentioned, Bitcoin is the top cryptocurrency currently available. It now has widespread use in specialist bitcoin slot sites, a number of online retail outlets and popular online gaming platforms like Steam. The concept behind this new botnet is simple – it’s unhackable. In the digital age, this is a bold claim to make, but it’s one that’s been backed up by a second-place prize in the MIT $100k startup challenge, as well as being shortlisted for the currently ongoing 2017 Atos IT Challenge.
The MIT students behind NeuroMesh recognised the security problems with the IoT and believe that their botnet will work on low-power, small-storage devices. Using the very same techniques that hackers use to compromise devices – installing a small piece of hijacking code – the technology has the potential to limit access to the botnet server and prevent devices from being hacked. It’s possible to hack into normal botnets and shut down the central server, but a bitcoin botnet is different because it relies upon blockchain technology, just like the cryptocurrency itself. As it’s decentralised, there is no central server to shut down!
Of course, no technology is fool proof and there are risks attached to NeuroMesh. Behind the very secure technology, there is a person who holds the passwords and who is control of access. There’s nothing to say that that person could compromise security through human error or maliciously.
The future of the IoT definitely looks bright and a number of sectors are already using the technology. The bitcoin botnet NeuroMesh definitely has potential to solve many of the security and privacy issues which are currently concerning both developers and potential users alike. To this date, the Bitcoin blockchain remains unhacked, which makes a botnet for the IoT using this technology very promising. However, nothing is ever certain, and problems with the volume of data being transmitted still remains a cause for concern. There is still a long way to go before we see the IoT becoming an integrated part of our everyday lives.