Security and Privacy for Hybrid Centralized and Blockchain Computing in the Internet of Things (NSERC Strategic Project 2018-2021)


The Internet-of-Things (IoT) is a world-wide collection of networks of physical objects, sensors, actuators, and computers. IoT devices are distinguished from conventional computers in both their structure and behaviour. They have limited memory and computational resources, are used in specific application domains, and use specialized network protocols. There is consensus that one) IoT will continue to grow by approximately 20 percent per year, and two) the greatest risks for IoT are security, scalability, and reliability.

Much of the growth in IoT stems from the volume and diversity of data produced by IoT devices. The value of this data has given rise to new economic opportunities, such as data markets, and new vulnerabilities for security and privacy. Security is a risk both as an impediment to future growth and because of the danger cyber attacks against critical infrastructure. In addition to conventional security services, IoT also requires data-access authentication, data aggregation, and ownership transfer. No known centralized security mechanism satisfies all of the requirements of large-scale IoT systems.

Blockchains, a decentralized peer-to-peer (P2P) ledger system, is gaining interest as a possible solution to many IoT challenges. Blockchains can provide trusted consensus, computation, and immutable data between untrusted entities. But, current blockchain technologies present their own challenges to IoT: scalability, computational cost, and privacy. Also, just as with IoT, the adoption and adaptation of blockchain technology is accelerating faster than the security foundation upon which it relies.

Research topics

In this project, we refer to a hybrid blockchain integrated with IoT systems as IoT-hBC. Our research is aimed to design efficient algorithms/protocols for the following problems IoT-hBC:

  • Efficient and scalable consensus protocols for permissioned/permissionless blockchains in randomized peer groups
  • Confidential transaction enabled blockchain for IoT ownership transfer protocols
  • Efficient confidentiality and privacy for access network authentication in blockchain based IoT