Leveraging Blockchain For Enterprise Security Assurance
By Gary Washington, Chief Information Officer, USDA
What are the key things that you are witnessing as to how blockchain is having an impact on the security landscape?
At USDA we are on an “empathy” stage of leveraging blockchain technology. In terms of the security aspect, we are trying to be in a position wherein we will be able to secure the blockchain data as we receive from industry partners. Although we are not setting up a full-fledged blockchain infrastructure, we are accustomed to the privacy and execution issues that they face around the data that we receive and the way it is exchanged with people.
When blockchain is creating the decentralized data, how can the security experts create a secure platform to secure all the data?
Being a decentralized digital ledger which is duplicated and distributed across various systems, the primary blockchain security issue that the organizations are facing is the lack of standards and regulations which should be tackled in a formidable manner. To this end, we need to be able to translate the different versions seamlessly with each other even after we have established a new data center (secure ended data) and with the decentralized and encrypted ledgers. Based on what we are doing with blockchain and how we propose to use it into our focus, I can comment that we want to primarily ensure that the data is secured end-to-end such that people don’t have access to the data that the blockchain system contains which in turn will result in making the data more safe and secure.
"One of the primary blockchain security issues is lack of standards and regulations"
Take, for example, the Federal space; currently, there is no clear guidance on how to secure the blockchain at a federal level. Even regulations such as HIPAA standard don’t provide a clear overview as to how to tackle the security side of things when it comes to blockchain. At the federal level—between a CIO and the CISO council—the security is being investigated, and additionally, there are many discussions which are taking place as I write this. The aim is to come up with an idea or a method that can help the government agencies in securing the data contained inside a blockchain system. Inherently, blockchain is supposed to be a secure, decentralized ledger and the data is supposed to be paperless and encrypted in any mode of transportation of data, but still, the importance of security is paramount, and we should deal with it right now.
With your experience what would according to you are advantages and disadvantages for a company that is going to adopt blockchain technology.
We would be benefited on how we securely interact with our agriculture partners. Maybe in an area of food export and different areas, our industrial partners are already using blockchain in various versions of it. We are trying to organize our sales around being able to interact with a node (as each node has an inclusive copy of the digital ledger and can work separately to validate the transaction) and not have to invest more than we need to in setting up an entire infrastructure for their capabilities.
What would be your piece of advice for fellow CIOs and some of the technology enthusiasts who are trying to leverage blockchain?
I would advise them to work closely with their industrial partners, have listening sessions, and plan carefully. It is very important that they comprehend that blockchain is not an IT-driven activity; although this is laid by the programmers. The CIOs and CISOs need to have a seat at the table and acquire the technical knowledge about blockchain and how to bring in associated security measures. This is a new technology that is changing the role of a CIO and changing how we secure things. I suggest focusing on how you would plan and organize your sales in terms of how you identify the role with other market companies that use blockchain will lead them towards a safe and secure future, while they use blockchain technology.
How would you see the evolution a few years from now?
When it comes to blockchain, the technology will be transforming the entire paradigm as to how we interact in terms of data transformation. The futuristic technology will also change how IT interacts with the business partners today, and how the federal government interacts with agencies. Thus, it’s going to have a profound impact on IT as a whole and in terms of how we meet our customers’ needs, and how we gather, store and safeguard data. A new evolution is on its way; we should be ready to embrace the changes that it will bring.
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