Samsung bets on blockchain to make the connected home more secure

Samsung announced Knox Matrix, a home blockchain to make the smart home more secure; all members of the network supervise the security of the rest – Credits: @Shutterstock

Kicking off its annual developer conference, the Samsung Developer Conference 2022, in San Francisco, Samsung announced a new version of SmartThingsits platform for linking devices in a connected home, which will implement blockchain technology to correct one of the biggest problems of digital insecurity that modern home automation has.

Blockchain is a technology associated with cryptocurrencies, but beyond it: it is a way to create an inviolable and shared digital record, and it is being widely used to preserve the security of supply chains for components, legal documents and more. The basic concept is that all the changes that can occur in a blockchain are validated by all its members, and the records are stored in all of them; thus, to violate a chain of blocks it would be necessary to modify the records of all the members simultaneously.

What is the danger of the connected home

What does this have to do with a robot vacuum or smart lights? As homes fill with Internet-connected devices (TVs, lights, air conditioners, doorbells, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, refrigerators, etc.) each of them becomes a door through which malware or a computer thief can potentially enter. . What harm could you do with a curtain that can be rolled up from a distance? The appeal is not capturing that device for the original action it was designed to do, but for its ability to communicate with other devices; thus, that innocent curtain could be the place through which a computer thief enters, who could install software that, from the computer on that curtain, tries to access other more valuable devices in our home, such as a computer, and from there to the content what’s wrong with it. EITHER use that connected curtain as a soldier (be part of a botnet, in the jargon) to attack other computers and generate a denial of service attack.

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So what Samsung raises with its new Knox Matrix platform is to ensure that all the devices that make up that home network generate a private blockchain: a cross-validation system that prevents unknown software from being installed on one of those devices and taking control of it. In theory, you won’t be able to, because the rest of the network will instantly notice: you’ll be missing the original credentials generated by that private blockchain. It seems complex, but Samsung ensures that all this will be automatic and invisible.

Cross supervision (all the components of that home network verify that the rest behave accordingly) will also bring another benefit: verify that all network members have updated firmware; Samsung says that if necessary they could manage the download of the new version to make the system more secure.

For now, however, there are no dates as to when this system will be available, or how backward compatible it will be: the equipment capable of adding this function is likely to be the most modern. At the same time, Samsung says that initially it will be available only for brand equipment, but that it will later be extended to the rest; There is no point in leaving a connected doorbell off that private blockchain just because it is from another manufacturer.

Samsung also ensures that it is a platform designed for the long term, something key considering that the useful life of many of the elements of a connected home should reach at least a decade of use.