The cryptocurrency frenzy that began earlier this year has drawn much attention to blockchain technology and its decentralized structure. As demonstrated by breaches from MyHeritage to Saks and Lord & Taylor in the first six months of 2018, unsecure centralized servers for apps, websites and the like act as easy targets for hackers looking to access sensitive information (i.e. passwords, social security numbers, etc.) in bulk. As a result, blockchain is increasingly becoming an accepted method for enabling users to share information and conduct transactions freely and securely. What’s more, new innovations like DApps – Decentralized Apps – are being born from the emergence of ethereum and blockchain to foster a safer environment for users.
What are DApps?
Rather than running on a centralized server, DApps run on blockchain, therefore any records of transactions and operations are stored on a public ledger for all active participants in the network to see. DApps are also open source projects, meaning their code is accessible to discerning users. DApps are built by a community of collaborators, and no one can person can claim ownership or shut an app down.
What are the potential benefits of DApps?
Due to their decentralized nature, DApps ensure full confidentiality and security of all transactions being conducted. DApps are expected to bridge the gap between users and service providers, eliminating third-party intermediaries. Instead of a single company storing customer data on a central database, data can be stored across several access points (i.e. on mobile devices), making obtaining sensitive data more difficult for hackers who are used to attacking just one target. Users will have everything they need on their devices to conduct transactions.
Businesses have already begun developing DApps to be used by the general public. Messaging mobile app, Kik, is in the process of creating a cryptocurrency and decentralized mobile wallet app called Kin, which will allow users to earn and spend inside of the Kik community, with plans to expand to other digital services and apps.
DApps and the Keys to the Kingdom
A future with DApps seems promising, but with these benefits come potential security risks. Access to blockchain and DApps are governed by PKI mechanisms. Users have to safeguard their private keys, which they typically do by storing them in digital wallets on their device. These wallets are then protected using passwords, which open the door to password reuse, phishing and malware attacks. If their private key is lost or stolen, the user can lose access to all of their data as well as their money stored in that wallet, including cryptocurrencies.
Here behavioral biometrics can be used to protect the digital wallets. Behavioral biometrics implemented using decentralized AI can be used to secure the digital wallets without depending on any centralized authority or storage.
AI and machine learning algorithms can train, run, and make decisions on local devices in decentralized networks like the blockchain. They can quickly and continuously build personalized models based on a user’s behavior – learning and adapting to the way they walk, tap, type and swipe, to which hand they prefer to hold their device in to determine between true human user and fraudster or bot. AI on-device eliminates the use of passwords and promotes decentralization, while simultaneously accelerating the user authentication process. In effect, online service providers and other businesses will no longer need to store customer credentials, and users will avoid identity theft.