The cryptographic wonder behind Bitcoin and other virtual currencies is about to bring its power to the Internet of Things. That technology — called blockchain — enables a non-repudiateable transfer of value between individuals or organizations through the use of the currency’s public ledger. This use of a public ledger is valuable beyond just providing a transfer of value. It provides a common, shared, irrefutable mechanism to transfer information, with a public record.
On April 6, 2016, seven firms revealed the results of a multi-month test to use a public ledger to manage the record-keeping and lifecycle of certain financial trades. This is significant not just for market efficiency and resiliency, but as a demonstration of a more broadly successful application of blockchain technology. This is a glimpse into the future of other areas where virtual currency technologies may bear fruit for distributed information exchange.
Application in the Internet of Things seems clear; make use of a distributed ledger to establish, manage, maintain and eventually dispose of information. The domain of IoT is nascent, emergent and frequently unscripted. It (and specifically securing IoT infrastructure) requires a decentralized, distributed mechanism to exchange irrefutable cybersecurity information that is and broadly communicable with various recipient technologies.
The catch is that a standard blockchain public ledger technology must first be agreed to by all parties. Though this process could exist at the National Institutes of Standard and Technologies (NIST), the market is already ahead of the game. It has identified the need and created multiple information sharing capabilities at companies like Apple, Google and Samsung. To really make this valuable, a clear market standardization needs to be established.