New alliance advocates the blockchain to improve IoT security, trust

The Trusted IoT Alliance hopes to "set the standard" for IoT blockchain protocols worldwide.

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Cisco, Bosch, Gemalto and other business giants have announced the launch of the "Trusted IoT Alliance" as part of an effort to promote the use of the blockchain to secure IoT devices worldwide.

On Tuesday, the group of companies said the Trusted IoT Alliance will "further a blockchain-based Internet of Things (IoT) open-source working group" that will create a "blockchain-enabled, trusted IoT" ecosystem with improved security and trust protocols.

To reach this goal, the alliance intends to create an open-source blockchain protocol to "support IoT technology in major industries worldwide."

The blockchain is usually associated with cryptocurrency, but its uses go further than as a means to trade in Bitcoin. The distributed, decentralized electronic ledger can also be used to underpin everything from voting records to legal documents, and with the same information distributed across different systems, tampering, falsification, or compromise is difficult to achieve.

Bosch, BNY Mellon, Cisco, Gemalto, US Bank along with Bitse, Chronicled, ConsenSys, Ledger, Skuchain, Slock.it, HCM International of Foxconn Group, IOTA, Oaken Innovations, Qtum, Chain of Things, and Big Chain DB are the first batch of companies to sign up to the alliance.

However, it is hoped membership will expand membership by targeting Fortune 5000 enterprise companies.

The group has already published a common API for registering IoT "things" to the Hyperledger and Enterprise Ethereum blockchain and plans to issue grants to support the development of additional open-source blockchain technologies.

"Proprietary technology and competing interests made a truly open network difficult to develop," the alliance says. "Open-source is widely recognized as the solution to the development of robust IoT standards. However, organizing consortia between major industry players is complex."

The alliance says that the groups' open-source tools and property will help the enterprise register IoT devices and create event logs on decentralized systems, which in turn will lead to a trusted IoT ecosystem which links cryptographic registration, "thing" identities, and metadata.

This will give users the equivalent of "birth certificates" for devices connected to a network -- as well as means to track any aberrations in behavior. In addition, the group says the aim is to increase interoperability and interworking, and so blockchain agnosticism will be maintained.

Co-founder of Skuchain, Zaki Manian, has been named the executive director of the alliance, with figures from Bosch, Chronicled, Cisco, and Gemalto holding board member roles.

"The world is beginning to recognize the potential of blockchain technology to fundamentally reshape the way business is done globally - and we're still just scratching the surface," said Ryan Orr, CEO of Chronicled. "At this early stage we think it's vitally important to establish an inclusive framework that ensures openness, trust, and interoperability among the many parties, in both the public and private sectors, that we believe will begin to adopt blockchain technology over the next several years."

See also: Yes, Blockchain could reverse the course of civilization and upend the world's most powerful companies

There are many companies exploring how the blockchain can be used not only for security purposes, but to improve business protocols, transactions, and supply chain management.

Microsoft, for example, is promoting its Blockchain-as-a-Service offering in the world of smart contracts, while the UK government wants to use the technology to track benefits spending.

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