Overcoming Blockchain’s Challenges In The Finance Sector

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Blockchain technology has been heralded as a disruptor for countless industries, bringing about much change and opportunity for any sector from finance to journalism to insurance among others. Unlike anything that preceded it, blockchain technology is an enabler of trusted digital relationships—even without a centralized administration.

As an emerging technology that’s still in its developing stages, countless organisations have struggled to understand and utilise the applications of blockchain in solving real-world problems. In particular, several factors hinder broad consumer adoption and blockchain enablement when it comes to the world of banking and transactions.

Due to the fact that blockchain systems are unable to interact with off-chain applications, users find that leveraging blockchain the way they usually do in moving and sharing money now poses a challenge. This disconnect between the off-chain and on-chain processes is also a cause for concern security-wise. In the hands of fraudsters, a user’s private key could be used to approve transactions under the assumed identity of the owner—or to steal away cryptocurrency from a digital wallet.

Further issues crop up when users look to give authorization to a trustworthy third party to carry out a transfer of funds via power of attorney or put more security measures in place. In order to solve these challenges, Singapore IT security companies must find a solution that integrates blockchain systems together with off-chain applications, all while maintaining solid security and the range of features users are accustomed to. A way this can be done is by making use of smart contracts to gain access to existing solutions grounded in reality.

Recent endeavors to integrate two-factor authentication smart contracts with a blockchain-based banking system have been successful. The identity management process works this way:

Much like Singapore’s Singpass 2FA setup, the smart contract accesses a third-party authentication service provider through the internet. Once the user sends out a request to validate a one-time passcode, the smart contract issues the hash—which contains the OTP transmitted via the application program interface for the off-chain 2FA. The smart contract validates the one-time passcode, confirming the user’s identity and thereby allowing the transaction to carry through.

The introduction of multi-factor authentication in blockchain technology brings the security and functionality of blockchain transactions to the next level. How so? Simply with its ability to prevent malicious identity thieves from utilising stolen private keys while simultaneously permitting users to provide verification for transactions even in a situation where their keys may be compromised.

In order for any secure blockchain platform to work in the mainstream, security systems require mechanisms that provide alternative methods in the verification process. As blockchain solutions evolve, the possibilities of what can be done with it are endless. Businesses in complex supply chains can track the flow of goods and carry through with payments once conditions are met. Insurance companies could integrate underwriting systems with block-chain to track the ownership records of highly valued property.

Most importantly, at the end of the day, crypto bank customers can rest assured that their digital funds will always be usable and accessible—even if their private key were to be leaked—a promise that no other IAM technology is able to make.

A Guide To Avoiding Third-Party Security Vulnerabilities

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With the advent of the digital age, cyberattacks have been on the rise—seemingly with no individual or business being entirely safe from this looming threat. To avoid falling prey to a cyberattack, companies have been investing huge sums in thoroughly securing their own on-premises infrastructure and data.

Unfortunately, there are a wide array of methods a malicious hacker could utilise in launching a cyberattack—some of which only the best IT security companies in Singapore may be able to identify. Third-party security vulnerabilities, in particular, can be easily exploited due to security lapses from vendors and service providers.

Regardless of how much effort businesses put into performing security checks and planning out a security strategy, these measures often fail to extend to third-party associates. Cybercriminals target this weak link in the chain to victimize companies, thereby making it a necessity to account for third-party security vulnerabilities in all cybersecurity strategies.

The following are measures to implement to help businesses better identify, tackle and resolve potential third-party security vulnerabilities:

Be aware of where your data is stored

Companies tend to give service providers and third-party vendors access to sensitive and confidential data when working with them. Even if data confidentiality and privacy are agreed upon in the service agreements, more often than not, organizations cannot attest to whether or not their data is truly safe with these third-party associates. Businesses need to be fully aware of where the data resides and exactly what data these service providers and vendors have access to. In doing so, it will be easier to put in place proper measures to safeguard the shared data.

Stick to one security strategy

It’s a common practice for companies to make use of different security strategies for internal and external resources. As important as it may be to secure the organization’s data, resources and infrastructure within its perimeter, all of this could easily go down the drain simply by making the mistake of overlooking third-party associates. Though these external vendors and service providers may reside outside of a business’s perimeter, they still need to be accounted for as a crucial aspect of the organization’s security infrastructure and cybersecurity strategy. Sticking to a single plan allows for a common monitoring platform, in addition to ease of management and maintenance.

Single sign-on solutions

Incorporating identity access management products such as single sign-on solutions into a corporation’s IAM process can be incredibly beneficial. Tap onto blockchain security to empower the existing protocols of SAML SSO and ensure uniformity in the user log-in process and access control via a decentralised distributed ledger. This makes for timely updates in security aspects like passwords and multifactor authentication, firmly securing al users and processes. SSO solutions can mitigate the tendency of losing credentials due to human error, streamlining the user experience and strengthening security.

Prepare a backup and recovery plan

With the frequency of cyberattacks and data breaches these days, it’s no longer a matter of if it will happen—but rather when. So is data loss as a result of hardware or software problems or outages. Have a contingency plan prepared in case things go downhill—even if it’s caused by a third-party associate. In the meantime, get all your organization’s confidential and critical data backed up in case of any eventualities.

SAML: The Key To Effective Single Sign-On

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The Security Assertion Markup Language, known in short as the SAML, is a framework that allows for the exchange of authorization and authentication data between two entities: a Service Provider and an Identity Provider. In a nutshell, what SAML does is it allows users to be authenticated and authorized without the need to input any additional credentials.

Utilising digitally signed, secured tokens and encrypted messages, SAML establishes a trust relationship between one site, domain, network and another. In other words, authentication credentials are retained by the identity provider for the service provider to authenticate against. This standards-based nature of the protocol delivers seamless authentication across identity providers and between organizations based on trusted information.

There are a total of three different types of SAML assertions that ensure security; namely, authentication, attribute, and authorization decision. Respectively, the first validates a user’s identity, the second passes the SAML attributes to the service provider, while the third identifies what the user can be authorized to do.

While SAML alone may not come with all the security advantages that modern enterprises are looking for, integration into technology like Single Sign-On in the form of SAML SSO can easily transform it into one of the most powerful IT security solutions out on the market. The fact that SAML is key to effective SSO is a fairly undisputed fact. After all, it’s what enables SSO to provide a sole point of access with just a single set of login credentials to the end-user who navigates through various networks and apps.

Since both credentials and passwords are kept by the identity provider rather than the service provider, password authentication stays within an organization’s infrastructure—making for greater control over security and curbing the likelihood of password theft.

As such, by facilitating a simpler Single Sign-On process, SAML further strengthens security, thereby cutting down on the dangers associated with remembering multiple passwords—be it making weak password choices, repeatedly using the same passwords or even writing them down. This improves the user experience and eliminates common password issues that call for reset and recovery.

Currently, the technology is deployed in thousands of large corporations, government agencies and providers as the standard protocol for communicating identities via the net. More often than not, it’s utilised to aid a service provider’s client in accessing hosted applications—without the hassle of repeated authentication. As an example, in the healthcare sector, SAML is able to unite healthcare providers in delivering critical applications to patients through a single authentication source.

In spite of these benefits, SAML is not without its naysayers—likely due to its complexity in implementation—even for experienced IT techs and administrators. Moreover, it has yet to be fully optimized for mobile apps, being limited to web-based authentication in an increasingly mobile world.

Still, regardless of what people have to say, there’s no denying that the protocol remains vital in providing the security features associated with SSO technology. Any cybersecurity expert worth their salt will tell you today that adopting identity access management products using SAML and SSO is crucial to every enterprise cybersecurity strategy.

How SAML And Blockchain Can Work Together To Enable SSO

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Security Assertion Mark-up Language (SAML) is an open standard protocol which allows security credentials to be shared by multiple devices participating in the same network. It is a framework that facilitates the exchange of authorisation and authentication of data between secure domains.

In SAML, authentication is provided by an identity provider. An identity provider is an entity that determines if a user is really who they claim to be. They might also regulate what degree of access the user is equipped and authorised with. Identity providers interact with service providers, which receive and accept information through SAML services.

The most common use of SAML is in Single Sign-On (SSO). SAML removes the need for passwords, through the use of digital signatures and standard cryptography. A secure token is exchanged from an identity provider to a service provider. The common problem faced by countless IT security companies is how users have to remember many different sets of login credentials. Organisations that have adopted identity and access management products which make use of SAML protocols can free themselves from the burden of managing and monitoring large amounts of username and password combinations.  Users need only to log in once and they can thus access the resources they are allowed to.

However, SAML authentication is reliant on a centralised system. Through such sharing of user data between various service and identity providers, the risk for data to be consumed by a malicious party opened up. Many SSO solutions relied on centralised databases that were supported by external vendors and companies. There was the possibility for cyber attackers to slip into the network through the third-party solution provider, giving rise to a breach in security and potential identity theft.

As a result, the evolution of digital identity started looking towards the concept of self-sovereign identity. That is where blockchain security comes into the picture. By approaching identity management with a model of decentralisation, each user in the network can control who has access to their own data. The user holds total control of their own data, as opposed to one central authority managing tons of individual user data.

How blockchain solution vendors can be tapped on to empower the existing protocols of SAML is to create a decentralised distributed ledger that prevents data from being altered or deleted. First used in the cryptocurrency world, such as Bitcoin, blockchain technology can now be harnessed to secure applications in numerous industries. The immutable nature of a blockchain network can be used to make SSO the next big thing in security.

Unsolicited circulation of data can be put to a stop, with the total transparency afforded by blockchain. It is impossible for anyone to tamper with the data stored on the blockchain, preventing hackers from forging authentication data to access the network.

Organisations and vendors in Singapore are beginning to consider how blockchain can be incorporated on top of existing SAML-based services and leveraged for its functionality. By fully harnessing blockchain technology, seamless authentication and authorisation can be pushed to greater developments.

Will Blockchain Change The Landscape Of Digital Identities?

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When it was first established, Bitcoin was seen as a niche cryptocurrency. It was only discussed within the most computing and technical-oriented circles. Within the past decade, the world has witnessed bitcoin grow and transform into a marketplace that has gotten the mainstream media and press buzzing everyday about it. The rise of bitcoin inevitably resulted in a certain technology being brought to light.

By that we mean, blockchain. By eliminating the need of any middleman, blockchain solution has led to the empowerment of a direct exchange of information between A and B. What blockchain offers is a distributable ledger that is immutable in nature, with complete transparency of time-stamped records.

It is such credibility and efficiency that has drawn multiple corporations and businesses to tap on blockchain for their operations. From the cryptocurrency world, blockchain is gradually seeping into other industries and sectors, from insurance to supply chain manufacturing to finance.

The world of identity and access management (IAM) has been shaken up with the popularity of blockchain technology. Since then, there has been a plethora of attempts to harness blockchain into cyber security solutions. With blockchain-based IAM platforms and services surfacing, IT teams are starting to find that they can put an end to fraudulent activity and identity theft. Users have full autonomy over what information they wish to share and being able to verify the data which is subsequently stored and encrypted inside the ledger.

Each block along the shared blockchain network contains information that cannot be altered or deleted. With links of cryptography, one block is connected to another and exists in a decentralised database. For a criminal or hacker to cause genuine damage, they would have to delete or modify every single copy that is owned by every user participating in the shared blockchain network.

In addition, the time-stamped records will show all users who accessed and retrieved the data from a block. Every block has its own complete history which can be viewed by anyone participating in the blockchain, meaning that all transactions are made available.

Blockchains can come with a set of permissions. This means that participating parties can determine who can write new blocks into the blockchain as well as set who can record transactions. Through this mix-and-match approach, security companies can experiment with the levels of security. Some users may not be allowed to be a node. Some users may have stricter permissions and verification processes.

However, data protection regulations such as the GPDR states that personal data should not be stored on public networks. In order to work around these regulatory issues, only the users’ unique cryptographic identifiers can be referenced and stored on the blockchain.

Following this thread of thought, many companies are leveraging on a hybrid blockchain to be incorporated in the context of enterprises. Governmental bodies and commercial enterprises find great value in the implementation of a hybrid blockchain.

As blockchain security continues to evolve, the world of digital identity can possibly be revolutionised. In IAM, blockchain has much potential.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Blockchain Technology

With the advent and increasing usage of distributed ledger technology, blockchain has become a major advancement in IT security and identity and access management. An extensive network of various ledger systems currently existing in the business world, however, they are easily susceptible to fraud and data theft. Distributed ledger technology such as blockchain technology brings to light a possible solution in which all participants have access to the most current version of the ledger where the complete record of transactions is transparent and cannot be modified or corrupted.

Blockchain is a decentralised storage system which is trust-less. This means that users do not have to trust a centralised database and handing over control to a third-party storage provider. As a result, the risk of a security compromise due to an external party is eliminated. In addition, human exchange of information is decentralised and democratised. All information created and added to a blockchain is grouped together and organised into blocks that are bound to one another through the use of cryptography. Ever since cryptocurrency services such as Ethereum and Bitcoin made use of blockchain as a platform that ensures all transactions are secure, numerous industries and businesses have started to leverage on blockchain as a solution to record-keeping that is reliable, transparent and instant.

From medical and education to real estate and insurance, many industries are leveraging on blockchain to address the existing security challenges that pervade in this digital world we live in. As blockchain security continues to be adopted in various fields around the world, more has yet to be discovered about what this technology is truly capable of.

It is therefore imperative that organisations figure out which blockchain technology is the appropriate fit for them. There is a growing array of blockchain platforms available for companies to develop on and utilise to address their business needs. When choosing a blockchain partner to work with, here are several considerations one should keep in mind:

Project Selection– Before selecting a blockchain platform, it is crucial to select your use case. This might seem like a redundant question but it is essential in ensuring that your blockchain solution solves issues that cannot be solved with current technology.

Scalability– As the number of transactions and participants increase, a blockchain network should be able to adapt and keep up with such growth in data management. Businesses that are transaction intensive are likely to run into scaling challenges.

Public vs Private– A public blockchain networks means that anyone can participate in the network. See Bitcoin for example. A private blockchain network requires permission in order to join the network.

Community Support – As blockchain technology is still in its infancy, it is important to have a level of support to surround you when need. Is the community of the blockchain platform able to provide ample feedback and support?

Developer Availability– Given that most of the programming languages are new, search for a blockchain platform that allows your developers to work in a language they already know.

What To Do In A Digital World Where You Can Trust No One

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Trust no one. That has been the adage when it comes to digital security issues. In this day and age, we are all hyperconnected. From employer to employee, company to customer, the sharing and exchanging of information has created much chaos. That has in turn led to many risks and threats towards cyber security, as people with malicious intent find and exploit loopholes for their own selfish gain.

Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Gmail or Instagram, almost every interaction and transaction online requires some form of digital identity. When it comes to remembering all the passwords and usernames used to log into the various online applications and services, how safe is that information protected? How much is revealed when users need to prove that they are who they say they are? In a world where you can trust no one but yourself, how do we ensure that we divulge only the right amount of information to external parties? How do we ensure that everything else remains encrypted and out of reach of hackers and thieves?

Blockchain technology offers a possible solution. What blockchain is, is a continuous list of records that are cryptographically linked together. These blocks all correspond to a distributed ledger which holds the records of every transaction. Stored and locked in every block is a timestamp and transaction data which cannot be modified. Whenever a user accesses a block, their history is logged and recorded.

People often discuss about blockchain security in the context of cryptocurrency. And for good reason. Its capabilities and applications can extend beyond the world of cryptocurrency to anything that involves online chunks of data and personal information. Besides the immutable nature offered by blockchain, its distributed ledger technology confers great promise and potential for identity and access management (IAM).

When data is stored in a distributed ledger, the databases of digital identities are thus decentralised. By doing so, external parties and vendors with the approved access credentials are able to retrieve the data and use it for authentication. The idea is that identities are protected from fraud or theft, given that users can choose who to hand their personal data over and exactly how much. Users are empowered with full control and transparency. As a result, it is way more secured compared to centralised, proprietary databases.

Most of current IAM solutions rely on third party software and external parties, which means that employees and employers alike have to trust someone else to store all their personal data. What that implies is a lack of influence and control over how such data is used, due to it not being accessible. Users are unable to see who has access to their private data and are placed in a position where they are subjected to data controllers who are, by and large, unaccountable.

Said third parties are also vulnerable to being hit by hackers and identity fraud. once they have been compromised, data that belongs to employees and employees, clients and business partners can easily fall into the wrong hands.

The Impact Of Blockchain On The Automotive Industry

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As technology continues to evolve in the 21stcentury, cars and vehicles are becoming much more than just a mere mode of transport. Nowadays, we hear news of the latest models in the automotive industry. Complete with onboard sensors and smart technology, it is no longer a huge surprise to see vehicles operating with data centres and computers that capture and process information.

When blockchain technology first emerged into the world, various executives in the automotive sector had their misgivings and hesitation towards it. However, blockchain started to gain momentum after a few years in the industry. Major businesses and corporations realised the true impact and benefits blockchain could bring to the table.

What does blockchain bring to the automotive industry?

  1. Blockchain technology enables the manufacturer to have complete tracking of car parts and pieces. This minimises the risk of parts being stolen, damaged, modified, etc. As blockchain carries the data of the piece’s origin, manufacturers can tell if a manufacturing defect had occurred or if any modifications have been made to the piece. Supply chain processes can be significantly streamlined, especially those that depend on compliance and regulatory approvals.
  2. The financial and transactional processes can be streamlined via blockchain technology. Processes that rely on manual data insertion can be efficiently updated throughout the lifecycle of a vehicle.
  3. Blockchain can be used to store data throughout the car manufacturing process. Be it quality-check records or bills of lading for car components, information that is important for each vehicle assembly can be safeguarded and accessed with convenience.
  4. The more connected a car is, the greater the risk of being targeted by malicious cyber attacks. Cyber security companies offer the strong cryptography of blockchain that prevents data from being changed or accessed by the wrong people. With a blockchain-based system, data can be securely exchanged between smart homes, software vendors, vehicles and others. Blockchain offers a decentralised model in approaching smart car connectivity, reducing any problems that would be caused by a single point of failure.
  5. With blockchain, identity access management for carsharing is made secure. Personal settings and profiles can be saved in the vehicle, without being leaked to unauthorised parties. The carsharing procedure for users can be simply facilitated via a single registration point in the blockchain.
  6. Rental companies are able to monitor via blockchain if the cars are in maintenance, cleaning, etc. They would be able to tell what is happening and conduct a follow-up on the car.
  7. Several processes in the vehicle leasing and financing section can be automated and optimised, thanks to the creation of blockchain-based smart contracts.
  8. For car owners, using a blockchain registry would result in easier verification of the car’s history, therefore providing full transparency when purchasing a car.

As you can see, the technology of blockchain has brought numerous advantages to the automotive sector. The list of benefits is not exhaustive and the industry is sure to continue finding innovative ways to enhance and streamline operations.

Blockchain Technology: Finding A Counter To Identity Theft

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Beyond the military, no other industry has a greater need for strong multistep processes for security than the sector of identity and access management (IAM). As globalisation ushers in a new age where services across different geographies and domains are required to be integrated, IAM software has to constantly innovate itself and keep up to the current trends of cybersecurity.

With many operations and business requiring users to pass along their most sensitive data, it is crucial for IAM systems to ensure that any number of the centralised databases being used will not be compromised. Identity theft has been a major thorn in the side of the digital security sector. With theft of identity and cases of fraud and data breaches threatening to increase in frequency and number, IT security departments have to work against the clock to constantly update and fortify their existing security systems.

But with the advent of blockchain security, the digital security world may finally be able put an end to identity theft. With blockchain technology, self-sovereign identity can finally be materialised. What does self-sovereign identity mean, you may ask? It refers to individuals being able to control their personal data, regardless of where they are. Through the ability to regulate information and prevent duplication, blockchain security will be able to nip the problem of identity fraud in the bud. Incorporating a blockchain ledger to store and manage identities makes it harder for hackers to access and steal information without leaving a clear digital trail.

How does the blockchain technology work? It is simple. Using modern cryptography, each block is built upon the previous block along the blockchain. The nature of this ledge is therefore immutable, as every change to information that has been stored in the existing blocks is logged and associated to an individual. This makes it difficult for malicious attacks to occur, preventing identity theft from happening.

As a result of the immutability afforded by the blockchain ledger, every individual involved and participating in the database is empowered and holds complete control over their personal data. Because of the decentralised nature of databases under blockchain security, individuals can be assured that their identities will be far out of reach from external third-party hands, managed only by the most trustworthy.

For most organisations, the credentials and identities of existing employees are entrusted to custodians and servers that are external or owned by employers. However, corporate hacks are common occurrences, especially for giant corporations. In recent times, many major businesses have had their servers hacked, exposing their customers and employees to serious breaches of data.

This has proven the need for a decentralised database. Why? When the database is no longer managed as a central entity, login credentials are now filtered through blockchain permissions, making the process for verification and login authorisation more stringent. In addition, the individual will be able to ensure the accuracy of their personal details and update them in real time.

Blockchain technology has begun to revolutionise the way identity is managed and secured nowadays. Organisations should be motivated to invest in blockchain, to protect their businesses.

The Influence Of Blockchain Technology In IAM Systems

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A technology that is still quite nascent, Blockchain is a decentralised database in which all managing systems store an identical replica of all the data. Like a chain, each block of information is inseparably linked to the previous one, forming a chain of information blocks that keeps on growing. The blocks on the block chain can never be changed. They are secured and bound to each other through cryptographic principles. This results in Blockchain being ideal for serving as a distributed ledger.

It is the best scenario for storing and archiving information that is shared and managed by a cluster of parties that do not fully trust one another. Its immutable manner of storing data ensures that all data cannot be deleted or modified. In addition, it offers transparency and visibility, with a record of time-stamps.

It is precisely this form of data-sharing that enables cryptocurrency to exist, as it is not controlled by a government or a nation-state. In today’s era of technology and information sharing, it is not a revelation that blockchain for business is being applied and used for its efficiency. With its capacity to support pseudo-anonymous transactions, it is also versatile that it can be used in a wide range of industries.

The role of Blockchain in IAM

Blockchain technology has gradually been harnessed into the sector of identity and access management (IAM). As it can be used to create a platform that secures individual identities from being stolen or becoming victims to fraudulent activities, businesses have enlisted the help of blockchain technology to deal with issues of authentication and authorisation.

Under blockchain technology, individuals are granted the freedom to create digital identities that are encrypted. Not only does this means that multiple usernames and passwords will be replaced, but it also offers more comprehensive security features that will be able to save time and resources for customers and institutions alike.

Individuals can create identities that are fully controlled and personally maintained by them and no one else. With such self-sovereignty, it becomes much more difficult for identity theft to happen, which is a common obstacle for traditional IAM systems. As authority is decentralised, the use of blockchains allows for a decentralised method of registration. As a result, their identity cannot be tampered or controlled by an external party without the individual’s permission.

Furthermore, given that blockchain technology is based on the concept of decentralisation and distribution, the cost and management of external identities can be eliminated. It has been proven that automating the synchronisation of centralised identity data within and without the organisation is not cost efficient. The impracticality rises when one has to take into consideration the external identities and users.

Moving towards a future of blockchain, digital identity issues and hurdles faced by existing IAM systems can be overcome. One current option is the implementation of a hybrid blockchain. Better suited for commercial sectors or highly regulated environments (e.g. enterprises and governments), hybrid blockchain ensures flexibility and control over data. As blockchain technology continues to emerge, the future of identity is sure to be revolutionised.