Interview with Filipe Farinha - University of Saint Joseph, Macau

CoT: Why do you think blockchain may assist in securing IOT devices?

IoT security and privacy are affected by both unintentional bugs and intentional weaknesses added by design, such as backdoors and centralised storage of device data. Unintentional bugs can only be avoided with better hardware and software engineering practices, but the intentional weaknesses can be avoided altogether if the manufacturers agree to make their IoT device stacks totally transparent (i.e. open source), and cooperate to ensure that any updates to existing IoT devices can only take place when there is consensus that the update will not violate user's privacy. This need for transparency and distributed consensus is where blockchain tech can really help.

CoT: How critical is the issue of security today with regards to IOT? I mean we hear about hacks regularly but how would you grade security amongst the list of issues affecting IOT

We cannot be truly ourselves under the scrutiny of third-parties, may they be commercial entities, government, or criminals. This is why privacy is essential to a free society. Unless IoT can deliver its benefits without infringing on our privacy and ultimately our freedom then I'd rather live without IoT at all. The bad news is that the industry started really poorly in this regard, but I am still hopeful that we can achieve a future with secure and private IoT, but only if everyone involved works in the same direction.

CoT: What does your thesis talk about?

My masters thesis [see link here] addresses the privacy issues that arise from the combination of IoT with Big Data. It proposes a consumer device as the building block of a decentralised big data ecosystem, that aims to satisfy both the commercial needs of enterprises and the privacy of consumers.

CoT: Do you think a collaboration approach is needed for the industry to explore the utility of blockchain and IOT

Absolutely. Without a concerted effort by the major stakeholders today it will be very difficult to make IoT work with security and privacy. We owe it to ourselves but also to our children.